I like my horror/scary projects to be atmospheric. A jump scare is OK, but I prefer a general feeling of unease coupled with a tinge of a slow burn. It’s why I love Something Undone.
Debuting Friday on CBC Gem, Something Undoneâ€”created by and starring Madison Walsh and Michael Musiâ€”manages what I thought was unthinkable: a genuinely spooky piece of work encapsulated in a six-episode web series.
And, it was written, produced and filmed during the pandemic. Created through funding from CBC’s Creative Relief Fund, which provided $2 million in development and production funding to a diverse range of original Canadian projects in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBC’s hook was projects had to be produced under strict COVID-19 guidelines.
“Mike and I started brainstorming,” says Walsh during a recent call. “We thought, ‘What can you maintain the quality and enjoyment of with restrictions on visuals? If we can’t have that many actors, what can we do? If we could only have one location, what could we do?’ That’s when we started to think about sound.” The result is Something Undone.
In the first episode we meet Jo (Walsh), a foley artist and her partner, Farid (Musi), who are the successful hosts of a Canadian true crime podcast. After her mother passes away Jo returns to her small Ontario town to sort through her mother’s things while continuing her foley work on the podcast. With Farid in Newfoundland and only available over the phone, a sense of desolation, loneliness, and unease begins to permeate Jo’s life. A disturbing sound Farid hears in one of Jo’s tracks leads her on a creepy, spooky path. Did the house, or something in it, cause her mother’s death?
“I was doing research about sound and learned that we, as human beings, perceive sound so realistically that we can make them up and hear them almost as if they were actually there,” Musi says. “I think that’s why watching a horror movie in our home is such an amazing experience. It doesn’t end when the movie ends. It stays with us.”
With strict safety guidelines in place early in 2020, Walsh and Musi headed off to write Something Undone in a spot many would consider a scary setting: a cottage in the middle of nowhere with no heat. There, they wrote for 10 days, fleshing out what they had established in the pilot into one big chunk and then found ways to break it up into six episodes with a cliffhanger for each.
And while you can certainly watch Something Undone on your TV via the CBC Gem appâ€”the colour palette, visuals and set decoration are wonderfulâ€”watching it with headphones on my laptop revealed a whole other level to the horror. Every little creak and clatter can be heard.
“We spoke to our sound designer and he spent extra time really juicing the sound for direction and to make that audio experience with your headset,” Walsh says. “Because it is sound-based, yeah, go for your headphones.”
Something Undone debuts Friday on CBC Gem.
Images courtesy of 4AM Film Studios.