Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
Jason Todd Ipson
What's it about
A first year med student develops a powerful new sense of observation after encountering a mysterious cadaver that might not be dead.
Is it good movie?
Here’s a lesson for everyone. Never eat chips and salsa while watching a flick where spilt open cadavers appear in virtually every scene. There’s just something about dead corpses, ripped apart on silver slabs, that don’t mix well with the mild chunks. After all, there’s something about morgues that seem inertly unsettling, so it should be no surprise that Unrest (part of the One of the 8 Films to Die For collection) takes full advantage of the medical school world. It shows every med students nightmares, which includes the complete disgust of dissection, the scent of formaldehyde, the wrinkled bodies, the saws, the grinding, and a body’s cold, dead stare. It’s unnerving watching first year students dig into bodies and see how they interact with a life-sized guinea pig. However, the movie doesn’t stick to the lab, director Jason Todd Ipson, a former med student himself, also makes effective use of an empty hospital as their professor explains that the lab remains open 24/7, allowing our characters night usage complete with massively long hallways, silent flicking lights, and the staleness of the hospital. At its core, Unrest succeeds at showing the sick side of medicine and everyone who works within it. Like a homicide detective, a person has to enter a certain frame of mind when dealing with death and Unrest effectively shows this. The film starts with two nurses who deliver a fresh corpse to the gross anatomy class. At the sight of the mangled, slaughtered woman, they make jokes while their fresh McDonald’s waits on the table next to the body. And things only get more realistic when students arrive to start their semester. This realism of their world and of the characters is what makes the film not only believable, but entertaining as well.
The story revolves around a young woman named Alison (Corri English) who’s sleeping at the hospital with no place to live. On the first day of class, she has a funny feeling about her groups’ cadaver, Norma. Something isn’t quite right. From here, things don’t go quite right for anyone, as people disappear and something mysterious starts knocking off classmates. Alison quickly suspects that a spirit seems hell bent on killing anyone who disrespected the body. Or touched it. Or looked at it. I guess. Unrest functions as a mystery, but falters as the characters throw around suspicions, but honestly, the whole “spirit” angle just doesn’t work. Maybe it’s a personal bias, as supernatural elements usually never add up. It’s as if Ipson couldn’t think of a reason to have a medical horror, so he went for the classic standard. Unrest also attempts an overbearing Aztec chant soundtrack that plays with a poor version of the Omen. It’s too much. Along the same lines comes the dialogue, which isn’t exactly top notch. Example: “Do you guys feel that? The sense of doom?” “We all do. It’s called medical school” Ugh. Or examine when our female protagonist seeks advice from the school councilor: “There’s something wrong with my cadaver.” Unrest attempts to have Alison suddenly possess psychic skills the moment she touched the corpse, but it gives the audience as serious case of the duh’s. Nevertheless, with effective acting (English works and looks great as our lead and Derrick O’Connor shines as the grizzled, sarcastic old professor) and a good, even if predicable story, Unrest succeeds as a good old-fashioned cheap horror on more levels than it fails. Not everything is original here, but on second guess, is there anything original left?
Video / Audio
Video: 16x9 Letterbox Version
Audio: 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital
Audio Commentary: This includes director Jason Todd Ipson and editor Mike Saenz as they examine the film and constantly interrupt each other, which grows old fast.
Unrest: Behind the Scenes: Decent, but nothing too grand here. It felt a little too thrown together as if a crewmember wandered aimlessly with a camcorder interviewing the cast
Though it suffers from the routine at times, Unrest is good, entertaining horror that’s a cut above the average for creativity, acting, and the fact it doesn’t involve any crazed hillbillies. A new setting comes in like a breath of mildly fresh air.