It’s tough to categorise The Unseen. Gary Sinyor’s film is primarily a drama, with raw emotional performances from Jasmine Hyde and Richard Flood as Gemma and Will Shields, a couple barely coping with the death of their young son. However, as it progresses, the story begins to tiptoe around genre, hinting that there may be something more to the situation they find themselves in, or something beyond.
Following the tragic accident, Gemma and Will fall apart in different ways. She begins to suffer from panic attacks that blind her, while he retreats into the spaces his child occupied and becomes convinced that he can literally hear him. A chance encounter brings friendly ex-pharmacist Paul (Simon Cotton) into their lives, who suggests that the very thing they need to do is get away to a cottage he owns in the Lake District. However, when they get there, they realise that relocation hasn’t made anything better. Is Paul right when he tells Gemma that her husband could become a danger?
Sinyor has primarily worked in comedy, but he skilfully creates a cold atmosphere of loss and sadness and draws excellent performances from his cast. Really, it’s Hyde’s film and she carries it brilliantly. Her Gemma is brittle and (understandably) nearly always one step away from emotional collapse, but there’s a real strength and determination to her that grows as the story develops and the central mystery begins to unfold towards the climax. For the most part, Sinyor is content to show us a couple who are both struggling with a tremendous loss and unable to provide any comfort to each other and to find their old connection, and it is powerful.
However, for all that, there is clearly something sinister going on here. Sinyor drops enough hints early on for the attentive viewer to spot what it is, but there are also enough red herrings to make things interesting. The final act stumbles once or twice, but it’s engaging, tense, the conclusion is earned and affecting, and Hyde’s superb performance carries it through any wobbles.