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Unspeakable

Pavan Grover , Michelle Wolff , Thomas J. Wright    R (Restricted)   DVD

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Unspeakable

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Amazon.com: 2.1 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been worse than it was. Feb. 21 2005
By Robert Beveridge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Unspeakable (Thomas J. Wright, 2002)

Wright, a longtime TV director (and one of the men who made the short-lived show Millennium such a pleasure) takes on his first big-screen project since the Hulk Hogan vehicle No Holds Barred in 1989. Given that as his last big-screen credit, I really wasn't expecting much from this flick. It was better than I expected, I'll say, but not much.

Diana Purlow (Dina Meyer, recently of Saw) is a neurobiologist who's developed a revolutionary new method of, to simplify things a bit, lie detection; she hooks someone up to a laptop and some other equipment and can see, to an extent, their memories and their reactions to them. (One thinks, idly, this would've been an amusing twist in Demme's Manchurian Candidate remake.) Despite her protestations of his innocence, a prisoner named Cesar (Marco Rodriguez, last seen in Million Dollar Baby) is electrocuted for murdering a border patrol guard. Meanwhile, the cops have finally managed to capture brutal serial killer Jesse Mowatt (writer/producer Pavan Grover), who seems like a perfect subject for Purlow's study, especially since the one she'd previously been using has just been made somewhat unavailable.

Add to the cast Lance Henriksen as an attorney who's always hanging around with Purlow, Dennis Hopper as the prison's warden, and Jeff Fahey as the governor of Texas (and one of Purlow's old boyfriends), and you've got a cast that's not inconsequential. They do a pretty good job with what they've been given, but the script is leaden at times, silly at others, and eventually spirals down into a mass of confusion from which it never returns. (If you figured out what was going on in the last twenty minutes of the film, by all means, let me know.) Henriksen and Fahey never really get enough screen time to bring their A game, Hopper's acting has seen much better days (though, to be fair, it's seen much worse, too; this movie is nowhere near as bad as Let It Rock, for example), and Meyer may be easy on the eyes, but she's not a lead actress. That leaves Grover, who obviously wrote and produced this as a vehicle (he is, after all, the main character). He's handsome, but not in a typical-Hollywood kind of way, and he's got some chops. Unfortunately, he's as constrained by his own script as is the rest of the cast; it'll probably take a few more films before we really figure out whether Grover's got a film career ahead of him. (Rumor has it he's headed back to his native India, and his next project will be a Bollywood extravaganza where he'll star alongside Amitabh Backchan, but I haven't found confirmation of that anywhere other than an interview with Grover; IMDB lists his next flick as another low-budget horror film called Mr. Hell.)

Confusing, silly at time, but not unwatchable. **
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Unspeakable" Falls on Deaf Ears Feb. 26 2005
By PR GUY - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
...and flat on its face...Dennis Hopper's that is. If it weren't for Dennis, this film would have deserved falling stars. The gore is in abundance...if you like the sight of brains, oozing blood...skin being pulled off one's face...a buzz saw doing a labotomy...and creep crawlers (namely brown and yellow worms) slithering out of brains. The best acting job is by the worms...if you get my drift. Granted...Mr. Hopper is first class...but what compelled him to do this film (must've been a tough first quarter of the year and he needed the extra $50). If you want to see Hopper at his best, go rent/buy "Blue Velvet", Tarantino's "True Romance" or the little known "The Apostate". Further insult to injury comes with its near 2-hour length. Gosh...I should have given my dog a bath and mowed the lawn. This one's only for the Hopper fans. He really does a great job as "The Warden". Other than that, lock this flick up on death row and send it to the electric chair.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unbearable May 20 2005
By Jeffrey Leach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
It is with a heavy heart that I must issue this scathing report on the atrocity that goes by the name "Unspeakable." I should state that I did not go into this film expecting to dislike it. Far from it, actually. I figured that a horror film with a cast including Dennis Hopper, Dina Meyer, Jeff Fahey, and Lance Henriksen showed some promise. Hopper is a hoot, at least most of the time, so there shouldn't have been any problem there. Dina Meyer is a stunning beauty. Jeff Fahey, a sort of prince of the b-movie realm, is occasionally interesting. And Lance Henriksen needs no elaboration. Anyone remotely interested in movies has seen at least one picture with Henriksen in it, guaranteed. His career spans the cinematic bell curve, from A-list classics like "Aliens" to low budget crud notable only for the fact that he helped them greatly by appearing in them. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the cast roster for "Unspeakable" alone would likely draw in quite a few viewers. What needs to happen now, regrettably, is to replace the word "viewers" in that last sentence with "suckers" because that is exactly what you are if you spend an hour and forty odd minutes watching this sledgehammer to the crotch. "Unspeakable," as noted in the title to this review, is unbearable.

On the surface, the film looks like something for which any respectable horror fan could root. The picture opens somewhere on the Mexican border as a couple of gringo patrol agents spot a guy standing on a river bank puffing away on a cigarette. Suddenly, he disappears in a plume of smoke. Alarmed, the guards rev up the engine and speed away, presumably in pursuit of this enigmatic figure. The movie then shifts focus to an unfortunate wretch named Cesar (Marco Rodriguez) tooling down a back road in his pickup truck. He spots one of the aforementioned border patrol agents stumbling out of the darkness, looking all messed up and asking for help, and gives her a ride. Imagine his surprise when she falls over in the cab and her brain falls out of her head. Not surprisingly, some cops pull him over, witness the horror, and promptly arrest him for murder. In no time at all Cesar ends up on death row facing down a date with the electric chair. Enter Dr. Diana Purlow (Dina Meyer), a neurobiologist whose brain fingerprinting device allows her to capture images from people's heads. Despite essentially proving Cesar's innocence with this contraption, he goes to the chair after the governor of the state (Fahey) refuses to grant a stay of execution because he thinks doing so will endanger his chances for reelection.

The picture kicks into high gear (ha!) with the arrival of Jesse Mowatt (Pavan Grover), a satanic serial killer who looks like the love child of John Stamos and Adrian Zmed. Purlow quickly becomes enamored with the murderous Mowatt and, despite the objections of foul-mouthed prison warden Earl Blakely (Hopper) and sympathetic ACLU type defense attorney Jack Pitchford (Henriksen), soon hooks up her little machine for some cerebral recordings. In between these antics, Mowatt battles lots of sleazy prison guards, puts up with Blakely's profane emanations, and exudes worms from his ears. He also has telepathic powers that allow him to take over people's minds (?), which essentially means he can cause a guard to commit suicide and force Blakely to claw his own face off. Predictably, the capper to this astonishingly jejune slice of horror involves a confrontation between Purlow and Mowatt that is so incredibly idiotic that one must see it to believe it. As the credits mercifully rolled, I asked myself what it was that I had just witnessed. I drew a blank.

"Unspeakable" fails on all cylinders. The acting is banal with the exception of Meyer. My hope that Hopper would rescue this clunker faded after hearing him spew profanity in a faux southern accent that is really beneath his abilities. Fahey barely appears, and Henriksen is on paycheck autopilot as Pitchford, reduced to strolling in the door every ten minutes or so to express his concern for Purlow's activities before disappearing just as quickly. Pavan (who also wrote the film, heaven help us) is boring and unconvincing as the evil Mowatt. Aside from the performances, the storyline makes no sense whatsoever, and the number of inconsistencies and inaccuracies boggles the mind. The execution sequences, for example, consist of one falsehood after another. An electric chair set up in a metal hut? Dozens of prison guards standing around watching the execution? Prisoners strapped in with a full head of hair? Where are the witnesses to the execution? Did anyone spend more than a minute actually researching how a real execution takes place? Apparently not. The only thing that offered a glimmer of salvation was the gore sequences--the shotgun to the head, the face clawing, and a few other nasty surprises--but they are too few in number and come far too late to salvage this car wreck.

The number of supplements offered up on the disc surprised me considering the mediocre quality of the production. We get trailers, deleted scenes, a couple of outtakes, and extended gore sequences. How a movie like this receives this many extras when a film like "Ordinary People" has nothing but a trailer is a question for the ages. Anyway, there's absolutely no way I can recommend "Unspeakable" and continue to sleep at night. It's a muddled, ham-fisted disaster that should spend more time in the trashcan than on a video store shelf. Avoid like the plague.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars respect the effort, detest the result July 16 2007
By B. Etnyre - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This film tells the story of a scientist Dr. Purlow (Dina Meyers) who tried to use a radical (and somewhat farfetched) medical/scientific technology to "read" (for lack of a better term) the human mind. Though her efforts to use this on a human subject are initially rebuffed by the Governor (Jeff Fahey) with whom she was once romantically involved (which is almost a believable and nearly a relevant premise), she is finally able to test this on a captured serial murderer named Jesse Mowatt (Pavan Grover). During this process of neural/psycho-navigation, Dr. Purlow begins to increasingly suspect that Mowatt is something more than just a psychopath - he might even be a well of pure evil, with telepathic powers and perhaps even supernatural elements. O-kay...

I have two opinions on this film which may seem somewhat incompatible, at least at face value:

On the one hand, there is my strident dislike for this utter piece of crap movie. It is a weak, unimaginative, and poorly executed film - most particularly regarding the writing, directing, and acting, which is especially unfortunate in terms of the latter aspect because there is some talent among its cast (except for the lead actor, Pavan Grover, who also happens to be the writer and producer). Dennis Hopper is a distinguished actor who is capable of both handling complicated roles and effectively defining character archetypes. In this film however, he is reduced to over-the-top profanities and being a one-dimensional caricature which crosses into high camp, without the pizzazz. Dina Meyers (hubba hubba) may not be the greatest actress ever born, but she is consistently solid in her performances, as well as being gentle on the eyes. However, she cannot save what is a marginally written and poorly directed pile of offal. Lance Henriksen makes an appearance in the film as well. He is a talented character actor with a unique and effective presence (usually) as well as a wealth of experience, but he is basically on auto-pilot through the film's lame script and sub par direction. Tom Keogh's remarkably inaccurate and useless editorial review for Amazon.com is a disservice for those looking for the film that simply does not stand up to his misleading description.

But the star of the film and a main source of its most glaring weaknesses - is Pavan Grover, who got the job because of his intimate relationship with the producer and writer. Actually, I don't have a problem with this (self-nepotism?) approach; if someone organizes and produces and arranges the financing for a film, then it is certainly their prerogative to cast whomever they like - including themselves. And, there is a modicum of logic to the notion that someone so familiar with the script might have an advantage as an actor (Leigh Wannell did an adequate if not impressive acting job in his role in SAW). This is an effective approach only if the individual has any shred of talent as an actor, or if they are at least cast in a role for which they are not so remarkably ill-suited. Grover is neither. He has seemingly little or no ability as an actor, and is a dreadful choice for a role in which either a fair amount of ability and/or a considerable presence is required. What little "acting" manages to clunk forth from him must have come from the Derrick Zoolander school of theater villainy (mugging for the camera with a shifty-eyed, brooding smirk). For a guy whose character is supposedly so sublimely and purely evil that it portends a possible involvement of the supernatural, Grover instead just comes off more like a model pouting because they're out of his favorite brand of conditioner. He isn't menacing or ominous, and certainly isn't scary; just unintentionally comical and annoyingly creepy in his listless portrayal. In the film projects I have been involved with, I prefer to forego major acting roles myself because I am really not much of an actor. That's not to say Grover couldn't effectively portray a menacing villain in a film. There are roles in which he might be able to pull off adequately, provided they are better suited to his look and abilities. In spite of his apparent limitations at acting, he is certainly an intelligent man.

The other opinion I have about this film deals with my grudging respect for Grover, who is actually a doctor by training, but followed his dream of film-making and has been able to put together a feature-film project as a writer and producer - not to mention as the story's main antagonist ... too bad he sucks at 2 of these things (I hope for the sakes of his patients and his malpractice insurance provider he was a better doctor). Still, I have to respect the considerable effort if not the result. Grover's example is inspirational, not only to those of us who want to (or have) had a hand in film-making, but as encouragement that making something so awful can actually get a distribution deal.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unspeakable is Unbelievably boring. Aug. 15 2005
By Mr. Right - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
It sounded like it would be cool, a shrink with a brain machine that could tell if criminals awaiting execution were actually guilty or not by reading their brains. Unfortunately the script is not well written, characters and their purpose are unclear, the acting is choppy and direction is none existent. It's kind of like the X-Files, you get drawn into the story, but lose interest when you realize that nothing will be answered for the simple reason that the writers and directors would rather be cute instead of telling a story.

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