Friday, November 13, 2015

Film Review: A Touch of Unseen (2014)

A Touch of Unseen (aka Gwi-jeob or A Touch Unseen) (Review)
Lee Hyeon-cheol/Park Soo-in/2014
Where To Watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"...the story is lacking in character and the direction is ineffective."

After the death of their parents, two sisters are rattled when they begin to experience supernatural attacks...

A Touch of Unseen follows Yeon-hee (Park Soo-in), a student struggling to make ends meet while being stalked by her deranged ex-boyfriend, and her estranged older sister Yeon-soo (Lee Eon-jeong), who abandoned Yeon-hee for her own reasons. The story starts off rough with a brief and vague introduction, then skips three years — which I felt further complicated the plot. From there, the story is slowly pieced together. We see Yeon-hee is tormented by her ex-boyfriend Hak-cheol (Kim Jae-seung) and she's raped by a ghost when she slumbers. Yeon-soo eventually arrives and the pair reconcile as they try to fight off the malicious spirit and Hak-cheol. Without spoiling anything else, that's practically the entire plot. The film leads to a decent ending. 

A Touch of Unseen is a mediocre film. First and foremost, the storytelling is cluttered and inefficient. Although you should understand most of the film by the ending, it was unnecessarily convoluted. It creates a pseudo-mystery by purposely withholding information. The story is also largely ineffective. The drama doesn't hit home because it fails to develop its characters and the flow of the film is unnatural. It often feels like it's all over the place and it doesn't give you enough time to get acquainted with the characters.

At the same time, if the direction and plot stayed the same, I don't think I'd want the film to last any longer. For the most part, it's too dull and bloated, even for a mere 80-minute feature. Also, there are plenty of plot contrivances and unusual scenes, for lack of a better term. A locksmith won't come and break into a house for you without verification and characters shouldn't dictate their every thought; there was also this long, steamy sex scene, I'm talking every angle and position – I thought I was mistakenly watching some old fashioned adult video!

A Touch of Unseen isn't an absolutely terrible film — it's certainly not the worst I've ever seen. I did like the conflict between Yeon-hee and Hak-cheol. I felt this added an extra layer to the supernatural aspects and kept the plot on its toes when the rest was slumping. There are a few creepy scenes, too. Although one may rightfully mistake it for a horror film, this is more of a drama. It has some horror elements, but none are especially effective. This is particularly due to a lack of atmosphere and suspense. Those creepy scenes, however, were exciting. Unfortunately, there isn't much else to praise when it comes to the actual plot.

Fortunately, the acting fares much better than the story, despite some melodramatic moments. I liked Lee Eon-jeong and Park Soo-in. Kim Jae-sung does well, too. The performances were great, honestly. The film looks decent. The music was a little off. Sometimes it felt magical and I swear I heard the final song before the credits somewhere else — stock music? Writer and director Lee Hyeon-cheol suffers from inconsistent and convoluted writing as well as uninspired direction. Obviously he was capable of crafting a feature-length film, but it never felt effective due to unusual choices in direction and what felt like a first draft of the screenplay.

Overall, A Touch of Unseen is a disappointing film. It has its fair share of strong moments, but the story is lacking in character and the direction is ineffective. The film simply failed to leave an impression. The acting was strong, though, so I applaud the cast. Lee Hyeon-cheol, the man behind the camera and script, doesn't excel, but he shows promise. As a side note, the subtitles on the Amazon stream are riddled with flaws, as well. You can understand it, but it often makes you work, so be warned.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, graphic sex and nudity.

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