Unsolved (2009)
By: Devon B. on January 19, 2015 | Comments
Lost Empire Films | All Regions, NTSC | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 88 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Lance McDaniel
Stars: Jane Bunting, Josh Shideler, Tinasha LaRayé, Arthur Scappaticci, Carol Klages
Writers: Sean Lynch, Lance McDaniel
Country: USA
For some reason I had hopes that Unsolved would be a taught murder mystery with some interesting forensic science. Less than a minute into the movie my hopes were dashed when a security guy nosily ambles down a hall yet manages to surprise a woman there. Maybe she's in an audio vortex or something because seconds later a janitor walks into the hall but can't hear her muffled cry of distress. It was immediately clear that Unsolved was not going to be realistic enough to be a taught thriller, and it was also clear that it was going to be a chore to get through.

A university offers a subject called Unsolved, an in-depth look into unsolved cases. I suppose something must be taught within the class, but the movie makes it seem like the entire subject involves nothing more than making the students play police with no guidance from their teacher. I guess that's applied learning, but if someone's spending thousands of dollars for an education it might be prudent to offer more than "Look into a cold case" as direction. Our hero has the good sense to pick an unsolved murder that happened right on campus, so she doesn't even have to look far for clues, but someone is still around that doesn't want this case solved.

The cover of Unsolved says it's "from the director of Children of the Corn" but more accurately it's executively produced by the director of Children of the Corn. I never thought much of Children of the Corn, but it's a friggin' masterpiece compared to this el cheapo nonsense. I'm sure that there was more money for Children, but even taking that into account Unsolved doesn't show much ingenuity. The direction is really flat, and the only thing that stood out were things that were overstated. The onscreen talent also like to overstate things, delivering some terrible performances. Just terrible. I mean really fuckin' bad. The acting is a strange combination of over the top and unemotive, with enough eyebrow acting to make the star of Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 proud. The lack of subtlety is also prevalent in the script, which is brimming with clichéd dialogue that gives the actors very little to work with. I don't know how much better Unsolved would've been with some decent writing, but to be fair to the cast even the world's most talented thespians would struggle to make these lines sound convincing.

At one point CSI is mentioned in a negative way. I'll admit that CSI is far from perfect, but at least it had some interesting ideas about how to present detective work. After bagging CSI this movie goes the opposite direction and has very little flash. Or mystery solving. It's like 30 minutes before there's even any fact finding, and it's nearly halfway into the movie before the second murder.

I think Unsolved could've been a great movie. All it needed was ninjas, rabid bears and bloodthirsty aliens. Without those other key elements, Unsolved is just another dreary giallo knock off.
The Disc
Unsolved has that cheap, shot on video feel. The print is clean, but there's a video haze that prevents it from looking too nice. There's also a bit of motion judder and some edge enhancement so the transfer could've been smoother. The 2.0 track is about the quality that could be expected from a cheap film like this. The audio is a bit murky with occasional distortion, but it's perfectly acceptable for a movie of this calibre. For extras Lost Empire have gone all out and given the viewer the ability to watch the movie all at once or to skip to sections of the film via chapter breaks.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Neither a hair-raising thriller or a full on slasher, Unsolved is just dull. I didn't totally hate it, but if pressed to name its interesting points I'd probably mention that the computer programs seem much older than the computers they're running on. This makes me suspect that I will not remember a thing about it in a week's time, so a few years down the line when I come across the film again somewhere I'll probably say, "That could be okay", acquire it again, then groan incredulously when the vaguely familiar opening scene flickers across my screen for the second time. In order to help others avoid the vicious cycle I'll no doubt soon find myself in, I recommend that everyone else just stay away entirely.
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