Unsane, the movie that promotes Apple iPhones while scaring the crap out of you is what I want to talk about today. Steven Soderbergh is trying something new with his career of filmmaking and that is filming a movie entirely with an iPhone on a 1.5 million dollar budget. Tackling my favorite genre, horror/thriller, he is bringing a disturbing and compelling story to us on the conditions of the human mind and how it can become our worst enemy if driven to the point.
Claire Foy (Netflix’s The Crown) plays Sawyer Valentini, a woman who relocated from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape the dangerous environment she experienced while being a victim of a stalker. While trying to start over she is still being haunted by this and can’t seems to let go of the fear she talks with a psychologist who convinces her to unknowingly commit herself to a behavioral center and slowly starts to realize that once you check in you can’t check out. To make matters worse, she believes that her stalker has followed her to the hospital but the question is; is she telling the truth or going insane?
This movie had a very strong start when letting the audience get to know Sawyer and the kind of woman she is. To be honest, not so much a likable character but you can see in her face the fear she has in regards to her own life and desperately clinging to hold onto any type of life. Once she gets to the hospital you slowly watch as she is literally signing her life and freedom away. The movie flows in a way that makes you experience the process with her without any knowledge or understanding with what is going on. This movie creates great tension in that regard.
I will say that 2/3’s into the film it starts to get a bit slow and repetitive with what is going on with her. Along her journey, we meet some colorful characters that don’t really make her time there any less stressful. Fellow patient, Violet, played by Juno Temple (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Black Mass). She is a firecracker that becomes more than Sawyer can handle right off the bat. You also have Nate, played by Jay Pharoah (White Famous, Top Five), who is not what he seems. Both of them play their supporting parts very well and it was also nice to see Pharoah in a role outside of his comedic zone. These characters can only do so much to keep the movie from falling into this trap of being stuck. This movie in my eyes is presented in a way of a mystery, a puzzle that needs to be studied and solved to answer the question; is she mentally unstable or not. We get to the answer of that question quicker than I thought in the film which unfortunately felt anti-climactic for me. From then on, you as the audience are just waiting for the next step in the movie and that is the climax. The story than takes on an interesting turn stirring away from this central story and giving more attention to the lack of care these facilities seem to have when it comes to taking care of their patience. It is a bit commentary about the health care system and what people are really capable of doing for a quick buck.
The 3rd and final act of the movie gets back on track and focuses on Sawyer and her current situation. Throughout the film there are definite moments of suspense and edge of your seat moments. I believe by the final act of the film you do care for Sawyer and what happens to her. If you happened to drift away not being fully engaged, this movie will reel you back in I promise you. By the end of the film, you are left with a weird feeling in your stomach with a little bit of an ambiguous ending and just the thought of how traumatic events can affect you for a long time, possibly for life. I think they could have done more with keeping us guessing throughout the film but overall I think the film did a wonderful job keeping us in suspense. This movie is more on the drama side providing more dialogue than action sequences. I would recommend this to a selective group of movie goers. Since this is filmed with an iPhone, the cinematography is a little dark and not up to big screen movie standards. I honestly didn’t have problem with it. I found it to be very unique and creative. I was impressed with what was done since it was done on a smartphone. Also, there are some who would like to see a full blown thriller with scares and edge of your seat moments. This movie avoids the typical run of the mill jump scare tactics. There are a few but it’s not the main tricks being delivered. This movie shows range for Soderbergh in my book and if you are a fan of his way of filming, this movie will not disappoint. Is this a movie I will be talking about in a month or two; probably not. It was well acted and the movie made me think, and left me a bit unsettling and that is what I paid to get so I am satisfied.
3 out of 5
Thank you for reading my review. Did you get a chance to see the film? Comment your thoughts on your initial reactions to the trailer and if you plan to watch this movie or not. Keep a lookout for a podcast I will be starting that covers all genres of movies. I look forward to that and hope to have you as my listeners as well as my readers. Remember, every movie has at least one fan. See you at the movies.