The new homegrown horror movie The Unleashed had a red-carpet premiere at the Queen Elizabeth Building on Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition grounds at the end of June, where the filmmakers (many with the surname Da Silva), cast and friends showed up. There were uplifting speeches, men in suits and women in fancy gowns, and even a VIP corner.
Then came the movie, which was somewhat less glamorous. Given the title, I was hoping it might be about a pack of dogs who organize a prison break from an off-leash park. Instead, it’s a budget supernatural thriller about an evil Ouija board, and, if I have this right, a century-long curse based on patent fraud. After a brief voice-over (by Malcolm McDowell, no less), we move to a 19th-century introduction featuring a witch-like character named Amara Xavier (Suzanne Farla), with an evil cackle and, as it turns out, an extraordinarily long lifespan.
Jump ahead to the present day where a sultry young woman named Madison Kennard (Trisha Echeverria) returns to her rambling family home after eight years, following her mother’s death. Soon, Madison meets again with old friends, including her boisterous pal Lindsay (Jessica Salgueiro) who suddenly appears in Madison’s attic (?), and is always in the mood to party. Lindsay, you can guess shortly after her introduction, is the kind of bad girl who is doomed, and sure enough, soon evil spirits have taken her over so that her eyelids roll up to reveal glowing white marbles underneath.
Meanwhile, a paranormal investigator (Colin Paradine) is wandering around town, trying to drum up research and maybe some one-on-one time with Madison, though he seems about a decade too old for her.
The Unleashed has an amateurish script, and is directed as a sequence of jump scares and hokey special effects, and features acting that, at best, is sincerely awkward. On the positive side, at least some of the humour is intentional, and the content, despite the movie’s title, is relatively restrained.
The Unleashed will screen in Toronto at the Regent July 8, the Royal July 15 and 16, the Underground July 8 and the Revue July 9.
- Directed by Manuel H. Da Silva
- Written by Diane Da Silva, L.A. Lopes
- Starring Trisha Echeverria, Jessica Salgueiro and Colin Paradine
- Classification: NA