THE UNFAMILIAR (2020) Reviews and overview

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‘Some fears haunt you from within’

The Unfamiliar is a 2020 British horror feature film about an Army doctor comes back from a war, thinking that she has post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, she discovers that there is a more daunting malevolence at work making the life that she knew unfamiliar.

Directed by Henk Pretorius from a screenplay co-written with Jennifer Nicole Stang, the Dark Matter Studios-Trigger Films production stars Jemima West, Christopher Dane and Rebecca Hanssen.


Vertical Entertainment will distribute the film in North America on August 21, 2020. Quantify Distribution Limited is releasing the film in the UK, with Lionsgate and Elevation handling home entertainment rights.


” …the unfocused approach used to develop the movie only achieves that the viewer becomes confused about where the plot is heading and loses interest. As a horror movie, the good ideas it has are hindered by the nonsensical scenes and the cheap jump scares. The film improves substantially in the third act, but at this moment, the harm by its lack of focus has been already done.” 10th Circle

“The acting is good, with McMillan-Hunt being particularly impressive with the way he handled some of the moments and lines he was given […] Ending up far short of its potential, this movie is only recommended to supernatural horror fans who are desperate for some new interdimensional demon action.” Arrow in the Head

” …one of those rare occurrences where the film probably needed two hours to explore its mythology and slow down its rapid-fire pacing. As it stands, horror fans should certainly give The Unfamiliar a shot as it doesn’t disappoint. Yet, there’s always going to be the question of what it could be with a little extra time and care.” Cinema Smack

“What starts out as a dull, familiar haunted house story turns into something much crazier once the family travels back to Hawaii for Izzy to “rest.” This may be the first movie to derive horrors from Hawaiian mythology, but director and co-writer Henk Pretorius handles it with clumsy condescension, including an uncomfortable use of an indigenous shaman as a plot device.” Crooked Marquee

“There are moments where the possibilities of The Unfamiliar take hold – a sly reveal here, an intriguing twist there, a hint of Ah-Ha! – yet the film never quite settles into enough of a groove to truly take off. Too often, a genuinely taut sequence finds the tensions squeezed out by a lacking performance or a rushed turn-of-events that deserved more screen time.” The Hollywood Outsider

“Though The Unfamiliar hits on many a horror movie trope, including loud music cues at jump scare moments and other instances that would constitute spoilers, it is well made, and offers enough originality and quality direction and performances to warrant a watch.” Horror Fuel

The Unfamiliar twists deftly into itself, planting seeds in the beginning that serve to build viewers’ unease only to unfurl and pull the rug from beneath our feet […] The Unfamiliar may not be telling a wholly original story but, true to its name, it does cast a familiar trope into a new and uncanny light.” Killer Horror Critic

“By enlisting a female character to behave so erratically in service of a weak story, Pretorious seems to be intentionally pointing out the idiotic leaps in logic audiences are willing to make. You cannot miss every hackneyed beat, it’s brilliant. If only that were really the purpose.” MaddWolf

“What is the deal with these kids, this husband? So unconcerned. That mystery drives the story and frankly isn’t enough to force the viewer engage with it. The whole affair, with its posh accents, country house in England and absurdly roomie “jungle” rental in Hawaii, is entirely too prissy to scare anybody.” Movie Nation

Cast and characters:

Jemima West … Elizabeth (Izzy) Cormack
Christopher Dane … Ethan Cormack
Rebecca Hanssen … Emma Cormack
Harry McMillan-Hunt … Tommy Cormack
Rachel Lin … Auntie Mae
Tori Butler-Hart … Kaimoni

Technical details:

89 minutes

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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