When Carmilla Karnstein steps off the bus in a small US backwater town, trouble is on its way. Carmilla is looking for her mother who had abandoned her as a child, and this town is the last place where she was known to have been all those years ago.
Troy and Laura, a disfunctional father-daughter combo, seem to know more; but they are hesitant to share. As Laura and Carmilla get closer, Troy’s control-mania seems to get out of hand. As blood begins to flow, whose side of the story do we believe?
The Unwanted is a mystery-thriller that plays – somewhat vaguely – with vampiric elements. But “gypsy” and “witch” are also terms bandied about. A lot of stories are told in this film, in a lot of versions, from various perspectives. But it is mostly Troy’s versions that we hear, and he is the very definition of an unreliable narrator.
The setting, the premise, and the plot are all very suitable for a mystery thriller, as are the behaviour and the interactions of the characters. The musical score by Paul Mercer supports the mystery angle – it is at times a very unsettling “instrumental noise”.
The acting is very good, which might be a bit surprising in a film that appears to be more of a B-thriller. The core cast consists of Christen Orr (Carmilla), veteran actor William Katt (Tryo) and genre-favourite Hannah Fierman (Laura), with smaller roles going to Lynn Talley and Kylie Brown. Orr is good, but her acting is a bit hampered by the way her character is written, especially in the second half of the film when writer/director Bret Wood seems not to know what to do with Carmilla. Fierman is very good, and Katt is simply outstanding as the quasi-preacher in his own two-person cult.
All the positive elements notwithstanding, there are several things in this film that do not work and they begin to weigh heavily towards the end. There are minor plot holes, and there are jumps in character development. This seems less of an editing issue, but rather feels like the complex premise has not been entirely thought through at the screenplay stage. I. e., Wood seems to have underestimated the fine balance that the particular nature of this mystery thriller would have required. Therefore, questionable decisions by the characters amass throughout the story – seemingly out of convenience so that Wood could get to the ending he wanted to reach. And as far as endings go, this one seems somewhat weak.
This is not a bad film. As I said, the acting is good, the film looks good, and the whole affair is also reasonably atmospheric. So I am prepared to rate it at 6 out of 10, but am unsure if I should recommend it to anyone.
The significantly lower average rating at imdb is probably a result of people not getting to see the kind of film they expected to see, and I cannot even blame them for that seeing how conflicted I am about the film. It is just an odd thing that I rate the film at 6 out of 10, but simultaneously feel that I would have regretted buying the DVD if it had cost more than the 2 Euros I actually paid for it.