Directed by Tod Browning [Other horror films: London After Midnight (1927), Dracula (1931), Freaks (1932), Mark of the Vampire (1935), The Devil-Doll (1936)]
The Unknown is one of those silent classics that often gets labeled horror when in reality, I feel that’s a harder case to make. I see enough horror here to keep referring to this as such, but it’s definitely much lighter on outright horror than many other silent horror films at the time were.
Plot-wise, it’s a somewhat interesting love story, and of course Lon Chaney has a fantastically expressive face, but aside from the somewhat thrilling conclusion, I don’t think The Unknown necessarily has a whole lot going for it. I mean, of course, there’s a pretty nice psychological feeling here, and there’s a few scenes that are pretty good, but at only 50 minutes, I don’t know it this has ever made an amazing impression on me.
I’ve seen The Unknown quite a few times, and it’s probably one of the silent horror movies I’ve seen the most (the short runtime being one possible reason), but it’s never been one that blew me away. It’s above average, without a doubt (if only because of the strong performances of both Chaney and Joan Crawford), but when it comes to silent horror, I want a bit more than what The Unknown has to offer, and this is far from my go-to, and farther from my recommendations to those delving into silent horror cinema.
5 thoughts on “The Unknown (1927)”