the unheard | jeffrey a. brown | michael rasmussen | shawn rasmussen | lachlan wilson | nick sandow | brendan meyer | drama | mystery | thriller | united states | ghost | ghosts | haunted | haunting | white noise | shunori ramanathan | michele hicks | jake eavey
Film: The Unheard
Director: Jeffrey A. Brown
Writers: Michael Rasmussen and Shawn Rasmussen
Starring: Lachlan Watson, Nick Sandow and Brendan Meyer
This is a movie that looked interesting to me when I was looking for 2023 releases on Shudder. I added this to my list to check out when I couldn’t make it to the theater. What I knew is that this dealt with ‘white noise’ so I wanted to see what they’d do with the concept. I did come in blind as well. I’ve decided to go ahead and make this a featured review.
Synopsis: Chloe Grayden (Lachlen Watson) undergoes an experimental procedure to restore her hearing. She begins to suffer from auditory hallucinations related to the vanishing of her mother.
As said in the synopsis said, Chloe is our lead. She lost her hearing as a child due to meningitis. What we will learn later in this is that it put her in a coma. When she came out of it, her mother was gone as was her hearing. We see her as she volunteers for an experimental treatment as a trial. This is led by Dr. Lynch (Shunori Ramanathan). They use stem cells to stimulate the growth of the damaged part of the ear.
We see that Chloe struggles with not knowing what happened to her mother. For good reason though. Her and her father have been unable to sell their house in Cape Cod due to this. Chloe heads out there to recover from her treatment. This is also for closure as they prep to sell. There are VHS tapes in the closet of home movies. She watches them. She notices as well that there is someone in a house on the other side of the lake watching her.
The hot water isn’t working so Chloe’s father reaches out to Hank (Nick Sandow) to come take a look. We learn later that he was a police officer when Chloe’s mother disappeared. He is now a handyperson and the local harbormaster. He is fond of Chloe and wants to help. She also runs into Joshua (Brendan Meyer). The two of them were friends when they were children. They talk and he even takes her to his mother, Ellen (Boyana Balta), who used to watch her when she was a toddler.
There could be positive developments from the experimental treatment. Chloe can hear the television and the tapes she is watching. She isn’t sure if it is hallucinations though. She thinks she can hear her mother when putting her ear to floor. Chloe is determined to find the truth. There also seems to be a history of young women disappearing in the area. Chloe gets warned to watch out for Joshua as there is something that is off about him and his mother. Whatever is happening to these women seems to happen to Megan (Nancy Cantine) as she closes a local store.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is that when this was starting up, I read more of the synopsis. This made me think that we were getting a variation of the movie White Noise. You could say that is the case. There is communication from beyond the grave through a television, VHS tape and there could be more involving this isolated house. I’ll admit, this fascinates me even though it isn’t doing anything necessarily new with it. The static screen is something I grew up with and thanks to things like Poltergeist, it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Now that I’ve set that up, let me delve into our lead here of Chloe. I like the explanation as to why she talks like she does. She learned to talk and then lost her hearing when she was a child. She kept up with speech therapy which allows someone who doesn’t have this ailment to portray the character. I bought it at once. What I also like is the use of technology here. Chloe didn’t want to learn sign language. I’m guessing she knows enough to get by. She uses her phone to allow people to talk and then reads what they said. She talks back to them to respond. Now as she gains back her hearing, there is a side effect that she might hear things that aren’t necessarily there. We are flirting with her as she could be descending into madness or depression. There’s also a subplot that gets introduced but doesn’t necessarily go anywhere with her questioning her sexuality as well.
This movie is carried by her. I should say that before moving to what I want to explore next. I’m not sure this fully knows the story it wants to tell. I’ll give it credit; it does bring all the threads together and they tied it up so that is good. I’ve already brought up the potential supernatural aspect. This is exploring how Chloe’s mother could be communicating to her through the old home videos. The mother is played by Michele Hicks. Her hearing her mother could be explained by the treatment and the medications she is taken as well. There is also the idea that she is a medium and susceptible to ghosts. Again, the treatment could be the explanation as well. There is also the high number of women that disappear in the area. We get a scene where a woman is murdered. Joshua then comments to Chloe about how she disappeared. This last part we lose for a long stretch and I thought about it right before the reveal to the truth. It focuses a lot on the supernatural/haunting, but I don’t know if it is exploring either enough to fully work for me.
There isn’t more for the story that I want to go into so let’s go to the rest of the acting. I’ve said that Watson was good and carries this. Everyone is pushing her to where she ends up. I thought that Sandow was good as this father figure that takes a liking to her. The more we get to know him, the more interesting he becomes. Meyer is good as a potential suspect. He questions Chloe about things, but I realized he didn’t have all the information. Ramanthan is good as a doctor. I like what they do with Hicks as the mother. Other than that, the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
All that is left is filmmaking. I’ll start with the video stuff we get. The tapes are warped. It was annoying, but I do have to admit, I don’t have an issue. This was supposed to be filmed in the 90’s as my guess. The tapes would have been at the tail end of their existence. There is a good chance they could be molded as they weren’t stored in a way to protect them. I’d say that the cinematography other than that was good. It didn’t necessarily stand out. I’ll bring back up the tapes, there are ethereal voices of ghosts and humming. I like what they also do, that when we are following Chloe, before hearing is restored, we can’t hear anything. They transition this well and I was impressed by that. It was a strong move in how they used it.
In conclusion, I like the use white noise that is used here. We have good story elements of Chloe being deaf, the struggles that come there and how her hearing comes back might be her link to the other side. Her performance is good with the rest of the cast pushing her to where she ends up. I’d even say this is made well enough with the sound design being the strongest aspect. I just think there are too many threads that don’t get explored enough. This caused me to lose interest and I think with the runtime, it was a bit boring for me. We needed a stronger mystery or more investigation to work better. Still worth a watch in my opinion, but not a high priority.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10