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Review: Unearthed (2007)

Directed by: | 90 minutes | action, | Actors: Luke Goss, , , , , , , Miranda Bailey, , , Deborah Offner, , , Chris Andrew Ciulla,

Archaeologist Kale (Luke Goss) in ‘Unearthed’ doesn’t seem like an everyday archaeologist; his face is partially covered with a tattoo. In addition, Kale looks more like he originally came from a criminal circuit because of his muscle bundles. You see him at work in a kind of underground tunnel system. Suddenly something starts moving and its small LCD screen registers it. Bald takes out his gun, but the mysterious creature escapes him. The first victim to fall victim to this indefinable phenomenon is a truck driver passing through New Mexico. Sheriff Annie Flynn (Emmanuelle Vaugier) is called by her colleague to inquire. Faint snippets of flashbacks reveal that Annie is struggling with an event in the past. Before getting into the car to drive to the scene, Annie drinks a glass of alcohol to silence this memory. The truck driver has disappeared, but the sheriff does find a strange piece of tissue on the grille of the truck.

Annie has it investigated by botanist Nodin (Tonantzin Carmelo), a woman who lives with her grandfather (Russel Means) and has the means to find out DNA. Much to their surprise, both women come to a curious conclusion. When night falls, they have to fight for their lives along with stranded travelers Ally (Whitney Able), Caya (Beau Garrett), Charlie (Tommy Dewey) and Hank (Charlie Murphy) … ‘Unearthed’ is a horror where the makers want to let you tremble like a straw in front of an enigmatic monster that first hid underground for centuries. This summary seems to promise a good basis for a good game of horror. Appearances are deceptive.

‘Unearthed’ makes it very colorful with the plot; it is bursting with holes. For example, a lot of attention is paid to the stranded traveler Hank from Texas who insists that he really has to leave on time to deliver a suitcase. For that he even wants to travel on horseback. You will not find out what his motives are for this. More importantly, you don’t have any clue as to why Kale went to such lengths to trace the of the lost Anasazi Indian tribe. Director and script writer Matthew Leutwyler instead opens a box of tricks full of clichés. For example, the characters have nowhere to go because of a shortage of fuel. And knows how to show up a certain character in exactly the right place without any communication about it. The creature that tyrannizes the environment, is not the only concern on Sheriff Flynn’s head. Unfortunately, the subplot around this authority woman does not work as Leutwyler hopes: it is not possible to gain more sympathy for her. Also to blame for this are strange dialogues that make the characters lack power. The scene in which Nodin conveys to the sheriff her discoveries from the investigation onto the piece of tissue is a good example of this. Nodin immediately apologizes by stating that she is really just a simple botanist and that Flynn should see a real expert. The scene in which Nodin conveys to the sheriff her discoveries from the investigation onto the piece of tissue is a good example of this. Nodin immediately apologizes by stating that she is really just a simple botanist and that Flynn should see a real expert. The scene in which Nodin conveys to the sheriff her discoveries from the investigation onto the piece of tissue is a good example of this. Nodin immediately apologizes by stating that she is really just a simple botanist and that Flynn should see a real expert.

To create the necessary tension, director Leutwyler uses a lot of dark and choppy camera shots. As a viewer, you do not see a thing of what exactly is happening. Images of the monster are minimal and Leutwyler probably looked at ‘Alien’ for the creature’s appearance. However, the events that take place during the day are beautifully portrayed. One scene where the cinematography is above average is when you see the car – in which Ally and Caya travel – driving on the road surrounded by the wasteland of New Mexico. Emmaneulle Vaugier in the role of a worrisome sheriff does it fairly credibly, perhaps also thanks to her experience as agent Jennifer Agell from ‘CSI: NY’. Yet the credibility of the character suffers from Vaugier’s appearance too young. Sheriffs are usually more advanced in age. Luke Goss shows a kind of action hero who has a passion for archeology. Goss’s bundles of muscles must impress, because the character Kale is a type of rough shell who is still trying to save what can be saved and is not afraid of violence. Tonantzin Carmelo’s character Nodin is perhaps the most likable of all the characters in ‘Unearthed’. The interplay with Russell Means is natural in the scenes in which they play granddaughter and grandfather. Carmelo and Means both also have Indian blood and were seen together in ‘Into the West’. The role of MC Gainey (‘Lost’) who loses cattle as farmer Rob Horn and joins forces with the other stragglers is strong. Amusingly indulging in Rob’s sarcasm about Sheriff Flynn, Gainey turns out to be a nice warrior against the creature. The other cast members are not memorable, their performance is on average at the level of a television movie. But that’s what the plot is like. In conclusion, ‘Unearthed’, like the monster, can disappear better underground. Interweaving an unnecessary storyline around the local sheriff, plot holes, dark and choppy camera work is not a good mix for an hour and a half of horror.

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