I despise movies like Unseen. I loathe movies that expose the appalling evil lurking in the world. I hate being reminded that awful people take advantage of those who are at a disadvantage. I am disgusted by folks who pull one over on those who see a light at the end of their bleak tunnel only to find a one-way ticket to a nightmare.
But movies like Unseen are necessary. We need to be reminded, no matter how unpleasant the subject matter, that real evil exists in the world, just waiting for the right moment to pounce upon the desperate.
Based on true events, the short film, written and directed by Elizabeth Blake-Thomas, is the story of an average American teenager. Like many ordinary teens, Carly (Rhyon Nicole Brown) can’t wait to escape her humdrum hometown, located in this case, in rural Utah. The teenager submits her picture to a “model casting call” passing through her area and is immediately scheduled for an interview. Sound suspicious? It should.
“…submits her picture to a ‘model casting call’ passing through her area and is immediately scheduled for an interview.”
Once in the room for her “interview” with the “casting agent,” a sinister but glamorous appearing European beauty, Carly’s fate is sealed. She will join the unfortunate club of dozens of other girls who are trafficked for sex daily. A coda at the end of the film informs us, “a new child is prepped for sex trafficking every 2 minutes.” Sobering stuff.
Carly submits her picture via Instagram, prompting Unseen to specifically emphasize the role that social media plays in the trafficking of underage girls for sex. Blake-Thomas does an excellent job of exploring how social media predators prey upon the primary outlet of today’s lonely teenagers. In doing so, these sickos can easily target and lure young women and girls into their depraved world.
Brown is nicely effective as the innocent Carly. Her expressive eyes, particularly in the “interview” scene, register excitement, apprehension, and guilt (for lying to her mother that she is elsewhere), all in one. Carly’s relationship with her mother, Louise (Yolanda Wood), is tender and affectionate, and we can see how much Louise cares about her daughter. In portraying a single mother trying to do her best by her daughter, Wood has a comfortable presence and makes your heartbreak when she realizes that her daughter is in perilous danger.
Truthfully though, I hate that movies like Unseen need to be made. But they must be made, and we need to watch them.
"…I hate that movies like Unseen need to be made."