Unbridled tells the story of a teenage girl detached from the world. After suffering abuse at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, she enters a stage of rehabilitation at the Unbridled Ranch. A therapy center that uses the natural bond between horses and humans, the Unbridled Ranch hopes to heal the young girl of her woes.
Unbridled‘s narrative is well thought out and touching, servicing both its own message and a greater one of strength. Focused on the path of Sarah (Tea Mckay), the plot deals with her time at the Unbridled Ranch and the unraveling drama of the circumstances that put her there. The film also simultaneously delivers a few other subplots, mainly involving Sarah’s mother Karen (Dey Young) and her boyfriend Roger (Eric Roberts). Sarah balances new friendships with members of her support group known as “The Herd”, and a blossoming relationship with Kenny (David Topp).
Unafraid to highlight the more darker tones of abuse, Unbridled feels honest in its story telling. I was initially worried about the religious overtones, which can sometimes burden a plot’s identity, but Unbridled handles its religion in a very organic way. In fact, the same can be said for most of the film. Besides a few scenes, nothing in Unbridled feels forced or unnatural, and for an indie drama, that’s quite a feat. The film manages to remain cohesive and coherent, never tripping over its subplots or getting tangled.
Unbridled‘s narrative is reinforced by a healthy cast of great performers, who deliver their characters to mostly success. The abusive character of Roger is played well by Eric Roberts, providing a tangible sense of malice and antagonistic force. Sarah’s relationship with her mother Karen is rocky, and the reason behind that is well depicted by Dey Young. Young plays a conflicted mother who is well intended, who only mildly brushes melodrama. T.C. Stallings plays Detective Mitchell Sangrin, who is placed on Sarah’s case and has his own troubled past. Stallings also occasionally overplays his character, but this is partially the script’s fault. The truly outstanding performance comes from Tea Mckay, who firmly leads the film with her depiction of Sarah. Although she comes off as moody and cold at times, Mckay gives a performance that truly makes the audience feel. She’s a great actress and I hope to see her in more films in the future.
Most of my issues with Unbridled come from technical issues and occasional heavy-handed writing. The technical issues mainly pop up in concerns to audio, as the mixing completely fails in some scenes. Some scenes with whispering or quieter talking are barely audible, and this is obviously unintended. While the script maintains quality throughout, it has a tendency be conflicting in tone. While the message is one of redemption, the script can be consistently depressing, offering more frowns than smiles. The end result is a mostly happy ending, but the path there can be quite bleak. From its appearance, you might assume Unbridled is a family film. I would argue that some of its content and sequences are too heavy and violent for young audiences. Teenagers will fare just fine, but parents should understand that Unbridled is not aimed at kids.
At its core, Unbridled is a story of healing that is guaranteed to warm your heart. It tells a powerful message of self-growth that is important to not just women, but anyone having a hard time in life. The story can be a bit depressing, and it definitely makes a few leaps towards the end, but Unbridled‘s overall narrative is surprisingly touching. A great set of performances from the young cast patch up shoddy script work, and in the end everything wraps up cleanly. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s definitely heads above its competition. In a world where dramas are a dime a dozen, Unbridled manages to stand out.
Unbridled: Official Trailer
Connect with Unbridled:
See behind-the-scenes: Kickstarter.
Movie Rating: 4 stars.
Movie Rating Guide
1 Star = Unwatchable
2 Stars = Cannot Recommend
3 Stars = Would Watch Again/For the Fans
4 Stars = A Solid Movie
5 Stars = Must Own (DVD/Stream Download)
I'm a life long gamer and an overall media junkie. In addition to writing great articles like this, I host a gaming/comedy podcast called "Super Gamecast 64" available on iTunes and Stitcher. I also watch an unhealthy amount of movies, and try to spread as much love into the world as I can. Hope you enjoyed the content!