Many times we come across stories that remind us of other stories we have heard, whether it’s coincidence, it’s influence, or a ripoff. I feel that Unwritten falls under one of these categories. Most likely, it is influence.
In Unwritten, Albert (Gabriel Burrafato) is an agoraphobic, failed writer living in a used bookstore. He’s convinced that a mysterious customer is actually the villain from a story that he never finished writing. When no one believes him, he is forced to overcome his fears in an attempt to save his estranged daughter and also the world. But is this character real or only a figment of Albert’s imagination?
“…forced to overcome his fears in an attempt to save his estranged daughter and also the world.”
The story itself reminds me of Secret Window, which starred Johnny Depp and was originally a Stephen King novel. In that novel, the main character, Mort, is haunted and followed by a man that claims that Mort has stolen his story. In an over a decade spoiler, Mort comes to the possibility that he has made all of this up in his head. He wonders if the guy haunting him is something he created in his own mind. Unwritten is very similar in that aspect.
Throughout the film, the mystery lies behind the notion that the stranger, Sherwood (Justice), is a creation of Albert’s mind or if Albert has just lost his mind. It’s a cool concept to explore but one that has been done many times before. It is hard to be original these days since there are many things and people to be influenced by. I am not sure if Dale Neven was inspired by a story he has heard before, but the similarities between the two films make it seem likely.
“…the psychological issues are revealed to be much deeper.”
What I liked about this film is that it takes place in a bookstore. I thought it was interesting to have the film take place in one place, then again, Albert does have agoraphobia, which is the fear of open or crowded places or pretty much the outside world. This is also something that helps create depth to the character. The story eventually requires him to either face his fears or hide from them. It also creates an assumption that he has psychological issues. At some point in the film, the psychological issues are revealed to be much deeper.
When it comes to the acting in the film, there’s some decent acting and some bad acting. Sadly, it’s more of the latter. There are quite a few times in the movie where the acting makes some of the scenes feel campy. Some scenes that are meant to be serious become hard to take seriously because of the acting. At times, I felt like I was watching an episode of Beyond Belief. Unwritten felt more of a story that would be better suited for an anthology series of some kind- something like Twilight Zone or Amazing Stories, where the story could have been served better.
Unwritten (2019) Directed and written by Dale Neven. Starring Gabriel Burrafato, Brittany Hoza, Mark Justice, Ben Stobber, Abraham Rodriguez, Ethan Patton.
5 out of 10