Fracking and Streaming: Unearth On-Demand
The locally-made eco-horror film is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and additional platforms
After eight years of development, the locally-made horror film Unearth, directed by John C. Lyons and Dorota Swies of Lyons Den Productions, is available for your viewing pleasure. If you missed watching the film during its Pennsylvania premiere at Waterford's Sunset Drive-In or any of its showings at virtual film festivals over the past year, you can officially enjoy the eco-horror through digital download and streaming from the comforts of your couch.
Here is the official synopsis: "Unearth follows two neighboring farm families whose relationships are strained when one of them chooses to lease their land to a gas company. In the midst of growing tension, the land is drilled, and something long dormant and terrifying, deep beneath the earth's surface is released."
The film, written by Lyons and Kelsey Goldberg, mirrors many of the old school horror films of the '60s and '70s: slow-burns that emphasize building tension and atmosphere, granting the audience time to get to know characters, so when the horror finally commences, it's more impactful. For those expecting unearned jump scares and high body counts of nameless characters, the film will be a bit of a surprise.
"Unearth also explores the intricacies of bonds between parents and their children," Zofia Wijaszka wrote in her review for First Showing after its showing at Fantasia Film Festival. "By showing the relationships between the Dolans and the Lomacks and their children, the filmmakers cautiously explore different paths of parenting and choices."
It is a horror film, yes, but also a character-centered family drama. It's a commentary on fracking, yes, but also on the pressures and difficulties of modern rural America, themes relatable to many who grew up in Northwestern Pennsylvania. These dualities, as described by The Guardian, make it "all the more jarring when Unearth explodes with little warning into full-on suppurating-wound, tendril-spouting eco horror."
It has a local connection beyond its setting and production crew as well: Girard native Marc Blucas and Edinboro native Allison McAtee, both who left Pennsylvania for successful acting careers, are two of the film's leads. The matriarch of the neighboring Dolan family is played by the legendary Adrienne Barbeau, whose long list of credits include The Fog, Creepshow, Escape from New York, Swamp Thing, and dozens of other well-known films and television shows. In Unearth, she is at the top of her game. Rounding out the cast is P.J. Marshall, Brooke Sorenson, Rachel McKeon, and Monica Wyche.
"It seems like a simple enough set-up: man makes a deal with the devil, and he and his family pay a high price for selling out," Katie Duggan writes in her review for Film Daze. "But the direction and cinematography instill the wholesome-seeming Americana setting with far more gore and grimness than might be expected upon first glance. This is a film that's all about what might be lying dormant under the surface — and the naturalistic performances from the lead actors make strong use of deep-seated tension and slow-burning rage, always hinting that something terrible might soon erupt."
The cinematography by Eun-ah Lee is indeed stunning and the score by Jane Saunders is subtle, but hauntingly effective. For the optimal experience, watch it late at night, with the lights off, your phone down, the volume up, and let yourself be immersed.
You can also learn more about the film at UnearthMovie.com, as well as what is going on in the local filmmaking scene through the Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania and the Greater Erie Film Office.