2023 • USA • 126 min.
Director: Jeffrey A. Brown
Screenwriter: Michael & Shawn Rasmussen
Cast: Lachlan Watson, Michele Hicks, Nick Sandow, Brendan Meyer
March 22, 2023 @ 6:45 pm
After undergoing an experimental procedure to restore her damaged hearing, Chloe Grayden (Lachlan Watson) returns to her family home in Cape Cod. Alone in the house, she experiences auditory hallucinations seemingly connected to her mother, who mysteriously went missing when Chloe was a child. As the hallucinations increase in intensity, she encounters acquaintances from her past, unsure of who to trust. Is the sensory phenomena she’s been experiencing all in her mind, or is she receiving warnings from an otherworldly source, signaling through the liminal space between hearing and unhearing?
The Unheard is Jeffrey Brown’s second feature, following his atmospheric The Beach House, trading in the slimy body horror of his debut in favor of intimate psychological terror. Steeped in paranoia, the film benefits largely from an isolated setting, positioning its lead in an insular community harboring dark secrets. It was written by local duo, the Rasmussen Brothers (Crawl, The Inhabitants), and produced in Boston and areas of Cape Cod, lending an eerie northeast vibe to the proceedings. The film tackles themes of alienation, trauma, and unresolved grief, driven by a stellar central performance from Watson (of SYFY’s hit Chucky series), whose character’s challenges with communication have less to do with her disability, and more so in navigating the ulterior motives of her encroaching neighbors.
The Unheard fits among a slew of genre work as varied as A Quiet Place, Hush, and Read My Lips, that propel deaf characters to the forefront of their storytelling. Brown sets a tone of underlying menace by manipulating ambient noise, signifying Chloe’s overwhelming sensory adjustment, while disorienting the viewer through distorted sound and images. It’s an effective tool in an intense mystery-thriller using the supernatural as a means of expressing the emotional complexities of healing, whether bodily, or of the soul.