By Chris Ball
The Plain Dealer
Five survivors of Anthony Sowell's house of horrors on Imperial Avenue in Cleveland's Mount Pleasant neighborhood take center stage in this dark 2016 documentary. Cleveland filmmaker Laura Paglin tells the convicted serial killer's shameful story through the victims' perspective. Melvette Sockwell, Vanessa Gay, Latundra "Lala" Billups, Shawn Morris and Gladys Wade lived to tell how they were lured into his death trap. How did police and neighbors turn a blind eye for years, until the decomposing bodies of 11 women were discovered in 2009? "Unseen" reaches the same conclusions as media coverage at the time about why the police didn't consider them credible. Because they are black. Because they are women. Because they are poor. Because they are presumed crack addicts. Most damning of all is the fact that six more women died after police decided Wade's complaint was unfounded due to lack of evidence. Paglin is thorough, using archival TV news footage, Plain Dealer clips, police interrogation video and interviews with family members, but the conversations with the women who made it out alive stand out in this powerful piece. The film was nominated for two awards at the 2016 Cleveland International Film Festival. Unrated, 75 minutes. From FilmRise. Released Jan. 23 on DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.