Courtesy of a free Redbox rental promo, I picked up The Unknown for my husband and I to watch and hopefully be terrified by. The Unknown is an original anthology series from Crackle, starring Dominic Monaghan as an anonymous blogger who works to delve into events of the supernatural, the strange, and the controversial. The series was created by Chris Collins (Sons of Anarchy) with individual episodes directed by Sam Nicholson (The Walking Dead), Kevin Connolly (Entourage), and Martha Coolidge (Real Genius). There are six stand alone episodes in The Unknown, with Monaghan’s character as the only constant between them.
Monaghan makes for a strange character, seeming to live a very secluded life in his apartment and communicating mostly online anonymously. His walls are littered with newspaper and magazine clippings and his furniture is buried under books. He does receive visitors on occasion, as shown in “Prime Cut” where the restaurant blogger pays him a visit so that he may sample the unique cuisine, but the visit is obviously not personal as it is related to his research and his possible obsession.
For the most part, the characters in the separate chapters are pretty compelling. I will admit, the first story “Relapse” did not succeed in drawing me in as I wanted it to, leaving me wondering if I had made a mistake in renting this movie. It was confusing at times, jumping from the past to the present and not really establishing how one thing related to the next. It quickly became apparent though, when the female lead was forced to face her past and discover who she truly is. The stories melded together and then we were on to the next. “Yesterday” featured a frightened husband who seems to be spying on his family from outside of the house by utilizing nanny cams. He rushes inside to help his family after seeing a hooded figure threatening the pair inside. What he eventually discovers is quite shocking but also something that could potentially happen in the real world, unlike the preceding story where you have to believe the unbelievable.
Once we got to “Prime Cut,” this series had my full attention. The chef and owner of a local high-end restaurant is naturally stressed when a popular food blogger comes in, especially since the blogger is known for his scathing reviews. In his haste to please, the chef accidentally puts something in his ceviche that doesn’t belong. He leaves his station long enough for a female sous chef to finish the dish and send the tainted ceviche to the blogger. To their surprise, the blogger loves it and posts a rave review. Fast forward to three months later, and the chef and owner is accused of being a one trick pony. He and his female assistant attempt to alter their secret ingredient, resulting in failure. Realizing they have to stick to the original is where this chapter takes a turn into skin-crawling and gory territory. This is definitely one of the best chapters.
In “Life Sentence,” we see the typical prison situation that we see in films. After a horrific murder scene, a new inmate is introduced to the prison and placed across from a prisoner scheduled for release in a week. The new prisoner, like many, proclaims his innocence. Unlike others, he blames his current situation on demonic forces. This chapter was interesting, if not slightly predictable. My main complaint is that the graphics and effects used on the evil forces were pretty terrible. Had they kept it subtle, they would have been golden, but they instead chose to add odd elements to the demons that made them comical rather than scary.
“Spare The Child” begins with a devastating tsunami that wipes out almost an entire village. A visiting man comes to next to the dead body of a young girl. He begs a local villager to save her and the villager agrees, gathering what look like orange cherry tomatoes from the brush and reviving the dead girl. His assistance comes with a price and at first, the man is willing to pay; he is able to create a miracle pharmaceutical drug from one of the mysterious berries he took with him. Due to interference from his wife, the man is unable to keep his promise to the villager. The price he had to pay was high and the end was not what I expected at all.
We end with “Privacy Settings” which begins with a seemingly entitled woman who thrives on feeling important. It’s not long before a hacker worms his (or her) way into her life. Her job requires that she maintain a positive public image, something her new stalker seems determined to destroy. Her webcam is one of the private things in her life that is hacked, something that has been in the news recently as a problem due to malicious software, so her stalker is able to spy on her in the privacy of her home. The end result of the work of her stalker is shocking and sad.
Overall, there were enough elements in the series to keep me interested. You can watch The Unknown trailer here: http://www.crackle.com/c/The_Unknown or just look it up on YouTube. If you look on YouTube or on Crackle’s site, you can watch the single episodes. “Prime Cut,” “Spare The Child,” and “Privacy Settings” are the must watch episodes; the other three are decent but feel free to skip over them if you don’t want to watch it in its entirety as I did. It was a nice addition to our Halloween movie playlist and “Prime Cut” succeeded in grossing me out today at lunch as I ate my pizza and the cheese slipped off and it reminded me of… well, go see for yourself.