The Unfolding (2015)

First published by TwitchFilm

Against a backdrop of impending global nuclear war, graduate paranormal investigator Tam (Lachlan Nieboer) and his girlfriend Rose (Lisa Kerr) head to an isolated fourteenth-century property in Dartmoor. Their aim is to stay one night and detect any unusual activity with a panoply of cameras and other devices, but as things very much go bump in the night and a presence makes itself felt, the couple stays on, soon joined by geophysicist friend Harvey (Nick Julian), by Tam’s professor Chessman (Robert Dawg), and even by the medium Muriel (Kitty McGeever).

At one point in the unfolding of this microbudget labour of love, Chessman reveals to Harvey that while he has a strong interest in the paranormal, his academic field is actually astronomy. This detail, in a way, encapsulates the divided loyalties of writer/director Eugene McGing’s feature debut, which conjures a world not so very far in the future (2016, to be exact) on the brink of mutually assured destruction, while also moonlighting as a ‘found footage’ ghost story pieced together from Tam’s cameras and the house’s external CCTV.

The house is certainly spooky, and amidst all the overstretched panic and running about that typify this subgenre, there are some real frights (generated mostly from the excellent audio). Yet it is debatable whether these two parallel storylines – the one involving a good ghost and an evil phantom, the other the spectre of nuclear annihilation – ever meet in any coherent or compelling way.

© Anton Bitel