So this weekend, my man and I finally had some time to ourselves and were able to indulge in a bit of horror watching. We had planned to watch The Hexecutioners last weekend, but when that didn’t happen, we watched it this past weekend. Long story short, it pissed us both off. More on that later. Feeling bad, babe suggested The Unbidden after watching a trailer for it and thinking that it would be better than the drivel we just watched. He was so right.
The Unbidden (2016) is the story of four female friends gathering at the home of one in order to help her through the anniversary of her husband’s death. Lauren is a mystery writer, rather anxious, fragile, on medications to help her cope with the sounds and hallucinations she is experiencing in her home. Her friends, plastic surgeon Rachel, model mama Anna, and spirit worker Kat, were there for her years ago when her husband passed and are doing everything they can to be there for her now. A simple premise, right? Throw in some melodramatic, petty girlfriend betrayal, a son given up for adoption, a few supernatural experiences and you have a pretty fun story in The Unbidden. That being said, Unbidden is by no means a perfect film. It does come off a little Lifetime Movie in dealing with a group of women who have been friends since third grade, calling each other by rude nicknames and comparing sons. There is a lack of heavy blood and gore, which works for a ghost/revenge story, but the use of CGI was laughable. The story line was good in giving a viewer enough backstory along the way to explain who everyone was and how they were connected, but there were times when the characters made several off-the-wall comments that seemed bizarre and unnecessary for shock value. It is a little soap opera-ish, a first in my horror film watching years. I mean, who has family members just show up to their home, looking just slightly pissed and demanding answers? By the time The Unbidden is half way through, the tone of it changes slightly. Is it completely horror? No. Is it suspense? Drama? Thriller? The Unbidden becomes all of these things at one point or another which runs the risk of turning a horror fan off. You will find more creep than jump scare in Unbidden.
All in all, does this make The Unbidden a bad film? In my opinion, no, but as a horror film, it is flawed. You will find no monsters hiding under the bed, no slashers suddenly standing behind you in the mirror. The monster is reduced to a more human level and if nothing else, a viewer will learn to choose their friends more carefully or at the very least, pay more attention to their actions. Directed by Quentin Lee, it appears to be his first horror film and I hope he makes more. Working with an all Asian cast, The Unbidden plays a bit on cultural stereotypes, but not so much that it’s annoying. Shot on mostly one location, The Unbidden doesn’t require a huge sweeping story to convey the uneasiness felt by all characters and doesn’t take forever to explain the reason for the uneasiness. Written by Narhee Ahn, The Unbidden displays more original thought than found in most mainstream theater-run horror films, but the film isn’t for everyone. I recommend solely on the grounds that it is an nontraditional horror film and that it pushes the envelope of what is considered to be horror. Give it a chance, hang tight through those first ten minutes and you just might find yourself more than pleasantly surprised.