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Review: Conrad Faraj’s “The Unseen”

The Unseen is a new short film from writer/director Conrad Faraj (Fighting the Sky). It was originally made as an entry in Cleveland’s 2019 48 Hour Horror Project, an event where it picked up nine awards. Now, The Unseen is gearing up for a full film festival release, and I was lucky enough to catch a screener before it hit mainstream audiences. I so desperately want to name a few films that it reminded me of, but I want to keep a spoiler under-wraps so the integrity of the movie isn’t ruined; but I will say that it’s both suspenseful, diabolical and uncomfortable in the best way. And it’s currently being adapted to a feature length project by Faraj, so if you do get a chance to see it on the big screen, just no a larger dose of madness is on the way. A nine minute short film from Conrad Studios, The Unseen finds two siblings trying to unravel the mystery behind their mother’s disappearance. Unfortunately, the result is more unthinkable than they ever imagined. Vincent Sarowatz, Makenna Weyburne, Morgan Paige, Spencer Mills, Rob Jaeger and Rachel Anderson star in a short film that is absolutely unnerving because of its basis in reality and the monsters that lurk among us.

There’s two ways to interpret the word blind. There’s the literal sense, as seen with the main character in this project, who doesn’t have the ability to use her sense of sight. Then, there’s the metaphorical sense, where a person blocks out the obvious when they don’t want to admit the truth to themselves. This theme is relied upon heavily in The Unseen, and the delicate dance plays out on screen in an impeccable production from producers Chris Harboldt, Rob Motoc, DeJonna Rakosky, Nick Hurst and Matthew Ward. What do we ignore on a daily basis? Who do we pretend to be when we don’t want others to see our inner darkness? What do we do when we realize family isn’t everything, and some family members are beyond saving? For a murder-mystery meets suspense-thriller, The Unseen is a very deep mini-movie. There’s actually more to examine here than the horror elements infused in the script, and that says a lot about Conrad Faraj’s talent as a screenwriter. Although The Unseen is puzzling and sinister in its own way, it has way more to offer than those two atmospheres.

The Unseen finds cinematography from David Hoffman and editing from Patrick Casteel. It’s pretty stellar from a behind-the-scenes perspective and does a lot with timing, lighting and mood. Not that I’d expect anything less from a Conrad Studios film. Impeccable professionalism across the board, including the performances from its actors. As if the young women weren’t battling inner demons, a heart-breaking disappearance and a murderous figure, there’s also the added bonus of a supernatural presence – which is great for the viewer as it adds even more to the allures that we’re looking for. Even with so much going on, The Unseen remains consistent and coherent in a world rocked by consequences, betrayal and uncertainty. It’s mesmerizing, unsettling and crosses genre borders with great ease. It’s not a surprise that it did so well during its premiere screening, and I know it’s going to go on and do great things in the film festival market. I wish I had any negative critiques to offer in regards to this picture, but it was pretty great from ever angle and I will anxiously await the feature length adaption.

Final Score: 10/10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)