Whatever you feel about horror or cosmic horror, you can never realty accuse director Zach Donohue of being unambitious. “The Unknowable” is a richly constructed horror film that takes influence from sub-genres like lo-fi horror and true crime documentaries for one of the more unnerving horror films I’ve seen in a while. Its H.P. Lovecraft meets Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, with a touch of David Cronenberg for good measure.
“The Unknowable” is a faux-True Crime horror documentary about the Wilcox family, who moved to a remote property in the Mojave Desert in 1948, compelled by visions of a strange alien species. The family spent the year attempting to make contact — but in that time, would draw the unwanted attention of other more malevolent and unspeakable forces, becoming the subjects of the most disturbing unsolved mystery the world we live in would never know… until now.
One of the shining elements of “The Unknowable” is director Donohue is able to compensate for the inherent lack of budget with the great use of public domain footage. Ace editing and some great use of stock footage allow Donohue to build his scary tale that is at its root a tale about pure evil being realized. Donohue films his production through a black and white, grainy lens, and doesn’t feature a single speaking role. Instead the majority if the production is enthusiastically narrated by Kevin Swamstrom who often sounds like Robert Stack a la “Unsolved Mysteries.”
A lot of the story of the Wilcox family is teeming with supernatural and occult themes, and it might tickle the fancy of folks that love horror hybrids. Donohue is able to utilize his footage very well, emphasizing the inherent lunacy of the events that unfold. I am usually not a fan of public domain footage, but director Donohue does a bang up job using them as tools to punctuate the sheer horror working as a backdrop for these characters. “The Unknowable” was originally presented as a ten chapter series online, but it works very well as a multi-chapter horror film. I’m glad Zach Donohue is releasing it as a feature, because it’s a unique and creepy genre entry that deserves an audience.