Teaching a very invaluable lesson about the pratfalls of social media, Unseen is an absolute must-see short film every parent should show their children. Written and directed by Elizabeth Blake-Thomas, the film tells the story of Carly (played by Rhyon Nicole Brown), a teenager living in a small mountain town yearning for fame and fortune. A shady modeling agency reaches out to Carly with an opportunity to make some fast cash. These sorts of scams are irritatingly common, and what happens next is truly horrifying and sadly all too real.
“A shady modeling agency reaches out to Carly with an opportunity to make some fast cash.”
Rhyon Nicole Brown really does great work with the role of Carly. She plays the character as sweet and ambitions, yet detrimentally naive. The supporting cast does a decent job aside from a few wonky acting choices. Nothing that was too distracting, just a few noticeable spots that just didn’t work for me and kind of took me out the immersion. Some noticeable characters were Carly’s mother Louise (played by Yolanda Wood). Wood plays Louise as a loving mother whose employment problems unknowingly pushes Carly into chasing after a source of fast and easy money. I really enjoyed her scenes with Ryhon Nicole Brown, the two had a really convincing repertoire that made for a believable mother/daughter relationship dynamic. Isabella Blake-Thomas plays Jenny, Carly’s best friend. The character is a bit conceited and self-absorbed, but it works as a juxtaposition towards Carly’s more earnest disposition. Tua Kealoha has a very physically intimidating presence, and just by body language alone, he gives off the vibe of someone who is up to no good. I don’t think he had any lines during the film, but he’s definitely memorable, nevertheless. Rebecca Da Costa plays the recruiter for the modeling agency. Her scene is short but very important to the narrative.
“…there’s some effectively heartbreaking imagery that really disturbs and horrifies…”
Unseen has some gorgeous cinematography. The mountain range backdrop really contrasts with the rundown, dusty small-town setting. When things turn sinister, there’s some effectively heartbreaking imagery that really disturbs and horrifies. In the background of some scenes, we see Carly’s social media activities and Instagram scrolling happening in a mirror subtly framed in the background. I found this to be an innovative way to show everyone’s attachment to technology and selfie culture. Elizabeth Blake-Thomas’ script is really well-written and oozes with authenticity. Carly and her friend Jenny act and sound like actual teenagers, there’s no cringy dialogue that feels out of place or forced. This is a very well-made cautionary tale told by someone who’s obviously very passionate about the film’s subject. Blake-Thomas actually is an Official Ambassador of Awareness Ties for Human Trafficking, an organization with the intention of educating the masses on the serious dangers of human trafficking and prevention tactics, and her passion unabashedly shines through in her project. This film is tragically accurate, enjoyable, and most importantly educational. It’s not preachy, it’s not obnoxiously shoving its message down anybody’s throats, it serves as a warning that these things could very well happen to anyone not careful enough. I enjoyed Unseen immensely. We need more films like it that shed light on a topic that is so often overlooked and ignored.