Unearth is a bleak story involving two struggling farming families in rural Pennyslvania, and the eco-horror that is unleashed when fracking unearths and something lying deep beneath their farmland. Unearth is the directorial debut of Dorota Swies, who teams up with John C Lyons for this horror drama, coming to DVD and digital download from 28th June.
For pretty much the first hour of Unearth, nothing overly dramatic or horrifying happens at all, and if it wasn’t for the ominous poster and trailer (or me telling you just now that it’s a horror!), you might stumble into Unearth thinking you’re watching some kind of slow-burn family drama. The two farming families are the Lomacks and the Dolans. George Lomack (Marc Blucas) is a divorced dad, struggling to keep his garage business afloat and with two daughters, one of which has a baby of her own. Kathryn Dolan (Adrienne Barbeau) is the matriarch of the Dolan family and is fighting to keep her farmland productive.
As the day-to-day struggles of both families play out, Kathryn Dolan decides to make George an offer for the lease of his land. But George has already been approached by fracking company Patriot Exploration with a considerably higher offer and decides to go with that, not realising the devastating effect his decision will eventually have on the families. As the company moves onto the land and begins work, there’s dust and noise disruption both day and night. But the drilling also releases a strange bacteria into the nearby water supply which then starts to slowly take effect on those that are drinking it.
As I mentioned earlier, the first two-thirds of Unearth are completely horror free. Actually, they’re fairly drama-free too, despite the ominous score regularly trying to force a sense of dread and unease upon us which isn’t really there. Most of the characters are underdeveloped and uninteresting but I just had to keep watching to find out how it would all eventually play out, hopeful for some of the promised horror.
When things do eventually kick-off, Unearth goes full-on body horror and there are a number of well-executed practical effects that provide a glimmer of hope that Unearth is about to pick up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to keep it all together and some frustrating camera work and editing manage to completely ruin everything, not to mention the disappointing ending. There was actually a period of about two minutes where the combination of shaky camera, quick cuts, out of focus shots and strange character choices left me completely confused as to what was going on!
For the most part, Unearth is a fairly well shot indie movie with an interesting environmental drama at its core. Unfortunately, the slow buildup and muddled payoff just aren’t enough to make this worth watching.
Signature Entertainment presents Unearth on DVD and Digital Platforms 28th June
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Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.