Unseen opens with a police officer asking a woman, "Who are you?" The woman, Zenzile/Zenzi (Gail Mabalane), replies, "I am just a cleaner." Of course, the truth is far more complicated. Before we get to the mentioned question, the same police officer informs someone that Zenzi is responsible for multiple murders. Those murders are all messily executed. Take the one where an adulterated packet of cocaine is used to kill someone. All Zenzi had to do was place the drugs and leave the premises. But she sticks around, asks some questions, and hits the target on the head. For someone who is a cleaner, Zenzi does end up making a lot of mess. Don't worry if you are initially unable to make such a connection. A character literally utters the same line to Zenzi at one point.
The series has a habit of repeating some ideas by vomiting them through dialogues. How do we know Zenzi is unremarkable and can effortlessly fly under anyone's radar? Because the series forces this point down our throats. A gangster remarks how a bunch of horny construction workers overlook Zenzi. Another character comments that she has a "knack for disappearing into the crowd." Almost everyone refers to her as "invisible," and a journalist says that people like Zenzi know about "us" but "we don't know anything about them" - twice! I wanted to grab someone's collar and scream, "Yes, I get it!" Since Unseen irks us through these repetitions, a good scene like the one where the journalist struggles to remember Zenzi's last name falls flat.
Another point that is told to us constantly, in the beginning, is that Zenzi's husband (Vuyo Dabula) is toxic and that she is "better off without him." Sure, the husband is not so progressive (he doesn't want his son to become gay). But when he is sent to jail, we see he has a soft side, and he expresses his love for his little boy. And then there is also the fact that the husband really loves his wife. If the husband indeed is "toxic" and Zenzi is "better off without him," then the series doesn't convincingly justify this notion. Unseen finds its premise to be amusing. There are moments where the characters are told about Zenzi's acts, and they dismiss it with a smile and a statement along the lines of "how can a cleaning lady kill such powerful people and escape from everyone's clutches?" The series wants us to laugh along with it, but we find everything about it ridiculous (in a bad way, of course).
First things first, Unseen is riddled with clichés, which is why it's so painfully predictable. I am not just talking about the whole story or big moments. Unseen is so devoid of surprises that you can guess what a character will do next. Zenzi, expectedly, pukes after shooting a man. If a character is presumed dead, you can be sure he/she will turn up later. When Zenzi finds a gun and lots of cash in a locker, you tell in advance which item will be picked up by this woman. Now, cliché itself is not bad. What's important is how you treat the cliché. When done well, even an old material feels fresh. Otherwise, you simply look at your watch and wait for the movie or the series to end. Unseen comes into the latter category. It's so uninteresting that I won't be surprised if some viewers end up pulling their hair.
The filmmaking is utterly bland. The background looks so fake and dimensionless that you think the whole show was filmed in front of green screens, and later, various elements (cars, buildings, etc.) were added through VFX. Unseen is an impersonal project and simply exists to recycle a been-there-seen-before material. The cast and crew look disinterested, so how can we attach ourselves to this world and these characters? Mabalane is stuck with a colorless protagonist who mainly comes with a dour expression. Brendon Daniels raises his pitch to prove his menace, only to yield comic results. Others evaporate from your mind as soon as they exit the frame. Unseen, too, will meet a similar fate. At best, its events would stay with you for a week, though that too seems highly impossible.
Unseen is disposable trash that pretends to be artful. It ends with a cheap cliffhanger that fails to ignite any excitement for a second season. It's easy to see through this mediocre piece of work, as it's feebly constructed and has a mechanical movement. In a situation like this, you are overcome with a desire to make a joke out of the show's title, but I will resist my urges. In Unseen, a woman tries to find her husband and seeks revenge, while the audience doesn't care for anything or anyone, for that matter.
Final Score- [4/10]
Reviewed by - Vikas Yadav
Follow @vikasonorous on Twitter
Publisher at Midgard Times
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