A phone call unites a visually impaired woman running for her life with a convenience store clerk having troubles of her own hundreds of miles away in director Yoko Okumura’s Unseen. Though it shares its basic conceit of a random stranger helping someone with vision impairment in a dangerous situation with the 2021 film See for Me, it does offer its own different take on the idea.
Physician Emily (Midori Francis) has just escaped the clutches of her ex-boyfriend Charlie (Michael Patrick Lane), who drugged and kidnapped her and intends to kill her in the woods of Michigan. Intending to redial 911, she accidentally reaches clerk Sam (Jolene Purdy) instead, and asks Sam to guide her through the wild using her phone’s camera. Sam doesn’t believe she has the gumption to do so, plus she is low on battery, has an abusive customer named Carol (Missi Pyle) harassing her, and there’s also the broken slushie machine to deal with.
Unseen works overall because of Okumura’s confident direction and terrific performances from Francis and Purdy, who bring their cinematic characters to vibrant life. It’s easy to root for these two characters. The balance between the often-thrilling chase through the woods and the sometimes comical situations in the convenience store sometimes feels a bit off-kilter, though.
The film gives plenty on which to chew for viewers in the way of addressing racism, gaslighting, abusive relationships, and more, but it seeks to entertain rather than being heavy-handed. The delightful performances from Francis and Purdy are alone enough to recommend Unseen, but there’s much more on offer in Okumura’s deft feature debut at the helm, as well.
Paramount Home Entertainment will release Unseen on Digital and On Demand on March 7, 2023 and on MGM+ in May 2023.