The Unheard Is an Awesome Supernatural Horror Mystery

The Unheard only came onto my radar about a month ago, but from the moment I first heard about it, I knew I had to check it out. It was directed by Jeffrey A. Brown, a really exciting new filmmaker who burst onto the scene with the 2020 gem The Beach House, so I was sure this one would be a standout effort as well. I requested a screener as soon as I could, and after finally getting the chance to see it, I’m happy to report that the film mostly lived up to my expectations.

The Unheard stars Lachlan Watson, Michele Hicks, Shunori Ramanathan, Brendan Meyer, and Nick Sandow. It’s about a young woman named Chloe who went deaf when she was a child, and she’s returning to her family’s old house to clean the place up and undergo an experimental procedure to regain her hearing. At first, the treatment seems to work perfectly, and she’s super happy with the results. However, she quickly begins to experience strange auditory hallucinations, and she eventually finds out that these seemingly illusory sounds might actually have a very real connection to her mother, who disappeared over a decade ago.

The Unheard is a very slow burn, so if you’re looking for chills and thrills every few minutes, this is definitely not the movie for you. In fact, for about the first hour or so, it only hints at the horror a couple of times, so it plays more like a drama than a horror film. It pretty much just follows Chloe as she goes about her normal life, so it stands or falls almost entirely on the strength of this one main character.

A woman walks into her house

And thankfully, she’s entirely up to the task, thanks in large part to lead star Lachlan Watson’s excellent performance. Chloe could’ve very easily felt like a hearing person pretending to be deaf, but Watson makes her feel 100% genuine. It’s tough to put my finger on what exactly makes this character so believable, but Watson is just so good that I had no trouble at all buying into Chloe and rooting for her from the moment I first saw her.

On top of that, The Unheard also gives us a chance to step into the character’s shoes every now and then, and that makes her even more sympathetic. Whenever we’re supposed to see things from her perspective, the sound becomes super muffled, so we can’t really make anything out. This happens several times before Chloe regains her hearing, and sometimes it goes on for a long while.

I always say that if a movie can show us something rather than merely tell us about it, it should go that route, and these virtually soundless stretches do exactly that. They don’t just tell us that Chloe is deaf. They let us step into her shoes and experience her condition ourselves, and that allows us to identify with her and empathize with her a lot more.

Because of all that, the first hour or so of The Unheard is excellent despite its lack of horror. Chloe is just an absolute joy to watch, so I never felt like I wanted to get this part of the film over with and fast forward to the “good stuff.”

A woman by the door of her house

Then, at about the one-hour mark, the horror comes to the fore a bit more, and it starts to build a pretty interesting mystery. It’s still pretty slow, and to be frank, there are even a few times when it feels like the movie is just dropping a bunch of hints without actually moving the story forward. But despite a few hiccups here and there, I was still pretty intrigued. I wanted to know what these strange sounds were and why Chloe was hearing them, so I remained invested in the story the entire time.

In the final half hour, The Unheard finally pulls back the curtain and lets us in on its secrets, and this part of the film is a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it has some pretty good horror action, so I found it really entertaining. But on the other hand, it’s not entirely satisfying from a narrative perspective.

Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that there are two kinds of horror in this final section of the movie, and they don’t quite mesh. Each one works pretty well on its own, but they don’t really have much to do with each other. Sure, they connect a bit, but that connection doesn’t feel entirely natural. Rather, it feels like these two kinds of horror are merely juxtaposed without ever being truly integrated into a larger whole, so when the credits began to roll, I couldn’t help but wonder if the film would’ve been better off just picking one or the other and sticking with it the whole time.

But thankfully, that wasn’t nearly enough to ruin the experience for me, so at the end of the day, I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed The Unheard. It features a fantastic main character driven by an equally amazing lead performance, and despite a few bumps in the road, the horror is good enough that I still had a ton of fun with it. It’s a really good sophomore effort from Jeffrey A. Brown, so even though it’s not quite as good as The Beach House, I still can’t wait to see what this guy does next.

The Unheard hits Shudder on March 31.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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