The Unraveling (2015) [FrightFest 2016]

UnravelingAs his fiancée is expecting his child, Michael struggles with his heroin addiction.  As his habit threatens his growing family, he is kidnapped and taken to the woods. Written by Thomas Jakobsen and Justin S. Moore and directed by Jakobsen, the film takes the addiction head on then moves in surprising directions.  The characters built are believable within the film’s established boundaries but also as humans.  What happens to them is not something everyone will go through but their reactions make sense, their actions as well.  One twist was a nit off feeling but once it’s passed, the film resumes being believable.

The events in the woods are well written, with relations between characters put to the test and their reactions making sense.  The wood sequences as well as some of the flashbacks build paranoia, fear, and tension. The cast chosen for this works well together with Zack Gold as lead Michael giving the best performance.  His character being an addict, he has some mood swings, which Gold handles with talent, showing all the sides of a man in his situation.  This character is not an easy one, but the actor does more than well with it.

Part of the supporting cast, actor Jason Tobias as Alan is the other performance to catch this reviewer’s eye.  His performance is more subdued, with less to work with, yet he makes the most of it, showing emotions that fit with the part and the situation. The cinematography by Milton Santiago looks great.  The wood scenes start off looking fairly calm, then they are livened up before the tension builds up, then the images work along with that.  He also gives a distinct look to the flashbacks which make them clearly identifiable, making them almost a world of their own as they create the background and what has led Michael to being kidnapped and taken to the woods.

The Unraveling is a film that creates a conflicted lead character, and then puts him in a situation where survival is even less certain than with his addiction, then tension working up to some fear and some good old paranoia.  The twist does take the viewer out of this effective tension by breaking it up and taking the film in an almost unbelievable direction.  This twist is annoying but it does add to the originality of the story while creating a resolution that makes sense for all the characters involved even if a bit far-fetched.  Thankfully, the cast sells the story and that twist making it work for the film as a whole.