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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Old Sparky

Unspeakable on IMDb

Plot Overview

frog on googleharlotDiana Purlow (Dina Meyer) proves that “attractiveness and scientific curiosity are not mutually exclusive.” In her high school days her zealous political work extended to fleshly favors to campaigners, but when she, a minor, found her­self a girl in trouble, she had to distance her­self to quell the rumors. She became a scientist at Brook­haven National Laboratories where she developed a “truth detector” called a brain poly-scan. It projects human memories onto a computer screen. She has permission to try it out on death row inmate Cesar (Marco Rodriguez) a “good man” with PTSD who can't remember how a woman's mutilated corpse found its way into his car. Circum­stantial evidence was enough to convict him … along with him being poor, brown, Catholic and ugly. The scan was not conclusive, though Dr. Purlow was convinced of his innocence. She watches him fry.

bound bookspudTo establish a baseline she has permission from prison warden Earl Blakely (Dennis Hopper) to use it on convicted serial killer Jesse Mowatt (Pavan Grover.) Imagine her surprise when the device displays Mowatt killing the woman Cesar was convicted for. She takes her conclusions to her former lover now governor's aide Kenny (Jonathan Levit) who is willing to put their past behind him but as he is planning a run for national office he worries what a determined press will discover if she resurfaces with some­thing this contro­versial. The governor J.J. Fitzwarren won't even talk to her because it was his love child she had to abort and he doesn't want any “negative publicity” to affect his reelection. They consider it unproven science and drop her like a hot potato.


Bible in handDaniel's accusers fed to lionsbeastieDue to childhood memory drills from his Protestant father, Jesse “knows every verse,” so he'd under­stand capital punishment from the Bible well enough. To keep violence in check after the Flood, God instituted the death penalty: (Gen. 9:5) “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” In primitive societies with­out sophisticated implements, wild beasts were used, e.g. lions den, snake pit, ant hill. A man's brother was expected to carry out retribution before they had a developed legal system. After that, there were laws. King Nebu­chad­nezzar (630?–562 bc) condemned the prophet Daniel to the lions' den for having prayed to the wrong God, but God closed the lions' mouths, and then the officials who'd accused Daniel were fed to the lions instead.

feeling guiltyFrom the way Jesse manipulates his female fans in the court­room, we figure he as a pretty baby had had his way with his lenient mom; she couldn't control him. That fell to his dad who was frustrated in his attempts at discipline. He laments, “God must hate me to give me you.” For what it's worth, Jesse the child rebel would know his place under the Mosaic law (Deut. 21:18-21):

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

It was a corporate punishment from “all the men of his city” and we do see abusive treatment from the guards and cops as he slowly makes his way to his determined end. He might as well have been stoned. For his drunken­ness in Mexico, he was trans­ported athirst under the hot sun. For his gluttony he was given substandard prison fare to eat. And it gets worse.

Roman soldiercrucified(Deut. 21:22-23) “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” On the wall in the warden's office hangs a picture of a man—Christ?—being crucified on a cross, a particularly painful way to go. Mowatt was infected with a parasitic worm from an unsanitary Mexican jail cell; he was no stranger to pain.

man w/a plan

distribution panelThe installation of an electric chair powered by AC was more deadly than DC. To be sure, one doesn't want to be shocked by either, but AC is worse. Due to the material composition of the iron core of a trans­former and other factors, the most efficient frequency for trans­mission of AC is 60 cycles per second (cps,) which is close enough to the heart's regulating pulses to arrest its beating. That's what awaits Mowatt, but he is so used to accepting punishment by then that old sparky doesn't hold for him the same terror as it did for the previous occupant of the chair. He seems resigned to his punishment as he's used to it.

His meeting with the scientist piques his interest and he starts hitting on her, not for her beauty but for her first name of all things: Diana. To borrow an historical reference from author Christopher Morley:

Do you remember that fine story in the Bible, when the business interests of Ephesus seemed to be threatened by St. Paul's preaching? He was telling them that Diana wasn't a real god, only an idol; but the silver­smiths' Chamber of Commerce, who did a big traffic in images, were pretty sore about it. [Acts 19:34] “All with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” There's a lot of Ephesianism in the human animal. (234-5)

forbidden bookMowatt seems to have some kind of agenda to expose a lot of death sentences as bogus in order to raise such a hue and cry that the judges will be forced to reexamine them wholesale.

Production Values

” (2002) was directed by Thomas J. Wright. Pavan Grover wrote the screenplay and also plays Jesse Mowatt, a dark, serial killer. It also stars Michelle Wolff and Mark Voltura. Dina Meyer looked beautiful but her acting was so-so. The other actors made the grade, although Dennis Hopper would have done better to lighten up some.

MPAA rated it R for strong violence and gore, disturbing images, language and some sexuality. This one plays like a soap opera: the film has a characteristic, under­developed tint and the dialogue is numbingly flat. Its revelations occur in stages and the plot builds up in layers. If you're not familiar enough with the Bible, you may miss some of its tacit references, although I've tried to help. The music by Jeff Marsh won't make the hit parade.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

Be careful about bringing a date to this one, because it broaches contro­ver­sial topics like capital punishment, police brutality, child discipline, immigration, women's careers, abortion, religion and race. And if sadistic guards aren't your cup of tea, how do you feel about gory corpses? Probably some­thing in it to offend everyone.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Lions den picture is copyright © Sweet Publishing. Licensed by FreeBibleimages. Creative
Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Morley, Christopher. Human Being. Copyright 1932, by Christopher Morley. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., Inc., 1932. Print.