The Unseen

A university student is stalked and abducted by a monstrous plague doctor who uses a music box to hypnotize his victims.

  • Xander Ross
    Expiration Date
  • Xander Ross
  • Tom Pritchard
    Denmark Road
  • Sophie Stewart
    Key Cast
  • Ted Jones
    Key Cast
    "Plague Doctor"
  • Joshua Danyadi-Sharples
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes 48 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 24, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    20 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Futureworks
Director Biography - Xander Ross

After his last short film Expiration Date gained 31k views and managed to attract the attention of industry legends Red Giant, and was a finalist at the Student World Impact Film Festival, Manchester-born and based Director Xander Ross puts his years of experience of VFX and creating short films to the test as he tries his hand at crafting a terrifying horror.

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Director Statement

Most anyone who knows me will tell you I’m certainly no horror aficionado - at least not in the traditional sense. Most of the times I’d avoided them for fear of being unable to sleep that night. Strangely, however, one of my favorite TV shows is (and has been for as long as I can remember) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a show that uses horror conventions as a way to convey complex themes about morality, adulthood, feminism and the difficulties of adolescence. Something which I’ve only come to appreciate more as I’ve studied filmmaking (and which has allowed me to begin to gain a better appreciation and understanding for the horror genre as a whole beyond just it’s incredible scares and terrifying monsters), and it has become somewhat of a staple of projects I develop - using genre as a platform for showcasing and explaining social issues in a more entertaining way.

I would be remiss to speak about this project without also addressing the very real themes which is represents. As came to light during the #MeToo movement, we as a society have become aware of the all-too-real and everpresent threat posed by rape culture, and how it affects women, particular often women in education, and how this is a problem that isn’t limited to dark alleyways as many of us might otherwise assume. It’s on our campuses. In our cities. And it's in our culture. As we said, you don’t need to be alone to be vulnerable. That to me was what I found most sinister. That idea that even in a bustling city full of people, we can still be isolated. We can still be alone. We can still be vulnerable.

Beginning with this as a theme, we then developed the idea, researching in depth on the topic and the genre, and working with an incredibly talented cast and crew to help bring these ideas to life in a way that is not only accurate, but also authentic. Originally the film was long and dialogue heavy (a typical mistake of many beginners), and it wasn’t until our amazing producer Tom called this out that forced me to rethink my approach, stripping away most of the dialogue, allowing the cinematography, sound design and blocking to showcase the themes with little needing to be physically said. In an effort to achieve this I once more looked at one of my biggest inpirations (Buffy) particularly the episode “Hush” which serves as a metaphor for assaults that occur on campus, and how, importantly - they often involve taking away the voice of the victim, a trait which also used to showcase the systemic problem we were trying to showcase. In doing so, we believed that we could try and better capture the sheer terror and horror of this situation.

Xander Ross