Deviating from the typical found footage formula, “Unlisted Owner” focuses primarily around the characters within the story, rather than the super natural occurrences surrounding them. The horror elements, of the film take a back seat to character development and serves primarily as an ever present shadow looming over everyone, subtly influencing events rather dictating their every action taken throughout the story.
This freedom granted the characters a sense of autonomy, which is typically absent from other films within the genre. The film begins through the perspective of a family moving into a new house. The events are recorded on home video by the eldest daughter of the family. The daughter voices her concerns and dissatisfaction regarding the move, while her father attempts to reassure her that everything will be fine.
What initially appears as a typical set up for a haunted house film takes an unexpected deviation when the entire family is slaughtered during their first night at the house. From that point, the perspective shifts towards a new group of characters along with the direction of the film itself. The new group consist of seven teenagers living near the area where the murder took place.
After witnessing the bodies being removed from the house, the group discusses whether or not to proceed with a camping trip they had planned in the woods near by murder location. After discussion the situation, all but one of the teenagers choose to proceed with the trip as planned.
The unofficial leaders of the group are two bombastic young men named Gavin and Tyler. While overall friendly with the others, the duo both impulsive and irresponsible, caring little about the consequences of their actions. Gavin and Tyler decide to take a detour from the trip in order to visit the house where the family was murdered. Despite opposition, the others ultimately decide to follow them to house where violence and death await them. Gavin and Tyler continuously display reckless and potentially dangerous behaviors on their way to the house such as drinking while intoxicated, calling in a fake 911 call and breaking into a crime scene. However, regardless of all misgivings, the rest of the group chooses to follow them anyways. By choosing not to act, even while openly chastising Gavin and Tyler’s actions, the other members of the group continue to follow their lead. By relinquishing control to an outside party, they’ve convinced themselves that they are absolved of any responsibility or repercussions that may result from their actions.
This lack of action underlies a central theme within “Unlisted Owner”. The concept of choice and free will. The movie asks the question of whether or not an individuals actions actually have any impact regarding their final destination. These ideas are explored from different perspectives through the two stories presented; The tragedy of the family murdered in their new house and the events proceeding the six campers entering the same house. The two stories are juxtaposed to each other, showing a family blind sided by a tragic fate and a group whose conscious actions appear to have led them to the same cruel fate.
“Unlisted Owner” takes an unorthodox approach to an over saturated genre and presents a unique and thought provoking film. If you’re a fan of the found footage films and looking for a movie with a different perspective, then “Unlisted Owner” is a film worth your time.