We review Shudder’s latest offering which tells the story Chloe, a young deaf girl getting her hearing back and the unintended consequences.
PLOT: Chloe Grayden undergoes an experimental procedure to restore her hearing. So she begins to suffer from auditory hallucinations related to the vanishing of her mother.
REVIEW: The Unheard is mostly a story of young Chloe getting her hearing back. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. The supernatural twist of her hearing her dead mother through white noise feels like an element we haven’t seen in a while (Michael Keaton’s White Noise anyone?). I was reminded of a lot of the film Sound of Metal, since both deal with the process of trying to hear again. Obviously, they’re very different (this one has a lot more murder), but in broad strokes, there are many similarities. One aspect I absolutely loved was Chloe’s clear fear of putting in her earplugs at night. It’s almost like a “What if I never hear again?” moment that she goes through nightly. It really goes to show all the torment and unpredictability in her life.
I skipped out on the second season of chucky, so I had no idea just how good Lachlan Watson is but wow. They give a fantastic performance in a role that’s anything but easy. The struggles that Chloe goes through in regular life are more about how she’s coping with her trauma versus how she’s coping with not hearing. It was a joy to see her regain her hearing and all the trouble that entails. Though I have to say, seeing her head resting against the microwave as it was on gave me anxiety.
Brendan Meyer has been carving out quite the space for himself in the horror world. He always seems to stand out even when he’s in something mediocre, so it’s nice to see him have something meatier to work with here. His character is mysterious and clearly has ulterior motives. I felt they leaned a little too hard into him being a bad guy, but it works in the end. I also really enjoyed Nick Sandow as the neighbor, Hank. He manages to play his role with a great duality.
Director Jeffrey A Brown has a very interesting visual style, that I think is paired well with the sometimes trippy audio. There are times when the sound design impresses with its subtlety, but for the most part, it’s pretty obvious in how it plays with sound. There’s a complete absence of noise when she can’t hear and then, as they introduce the elements that help her understand others, we as the viewer get to experience those sounds finally. But they don’t play with this enough outside of the opening.
I’m sure there are some people that are not going to like the random killer element, and it can seem a little out of place. But I wear, it comes together in a meaningful way by the end. Though that doesn’t mean that everything works. There’s a relationship that randomly develops between Chloe and her doctor that feels gross. Chloe is treated as a teenager and this woman is in her 30’s. It felt so out of place, I didn’t even register what was happening until it was right in your face.
While there are some elements that don’t really come together in the end, I still really enjoyed The Unheard. The film is anchored by Lachlan Watson’s absolutely stellar performance as Chloe. They have a very interesting career in front of them. There’s a twist at the end that I saw coming a mile away, but any eagle-eyed viewer will spot it. And fortunately, the film isn’t worse off because of it. In fact, I’d say it still works because of the fact that the story isn’t about the killer, it’s about Chloe healing as a person. Which is a movie I can get behind.
The Unheard is STREAMING ON SHUDDER and AMC+ ON MARCH 30TH, 2023.