Review: Unsane

Unsane, to me, seems to have tried to become “intentionally indie”. It came as no surprise to me to find out that director Steven Soderbergh (of mainly Ocean’s Eleven fame, but also recently the film Logan Lucky) shot this entire movie on an iPhone.

In an interview he had with IndieWire, he said

 

“Anybody going to see this movie who has no idea of the backstory to the production will have no idea this was shot on the phone. That’s not part of the conceit.”

 

 

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Soderbergh, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I could tell from the get-go that something was off about the film picture and could tell that it wasn’t shot with professional film equipment. I don’t consider myself as someone who has an exceptional eye for cinematography, either. The entire picture looks very granulated. The only thing I was surprised about was just how much I overestimated the quality of the iPhone 7 video camera.

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It’s possible that he was trying to use it to enhance the tone of the movie (which has a very kind of gross feeling to it anyway), but I read in another interview with Steven Soderbergh that he plans on shooting most, if not all of his films using an iPhone… and the cynic in me thinks that this is more because it’s cheaper, and less because of artistic reasonings.

I can’t prove any of this, so the camera work is not going to affect my grade for Unsane.

 

Oh yeah, SITWOL: A woman unwittingly admits herself into a mental institution when seeking therapy from her stalker-related PTSD.

 

I enjoyed Unsane. It was an intense, claustrophobic, flawed psychological horror film.

 

Everyone in the film does fine. The lead actress, Claire Foy, does well with her role despite her part being somewhat poorly written. There’s moments in the film where it’s extremely difficult to understand why she’s doing what she’s doing. Some of her actions are nothing short of moronic. Now, some of her lack of reasoning is understandable considering it’s because of her PTSD, but other decisions seemed like she was just being stupid so the movie could perpetuate her situation, and thus the plot… and that just felt cheap and made it hard to relate to the character.

 

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All the other actors were also great. Jay Pharoah played the most likable person in the entire movie.

There is some awkward acting bits, but most if not all of that could be chalked up to the camera work. Honestly, the cinematography in general just made everything feel very uncomfortable and ugly.

With that said, the cinematography does do a lot to increase he overall claustrophobic and paranoid tone of the entire movie. I don’t really think it did anything I’ve never seen before, but what was done was serviceable. I could say the exact same thing about the soundtrack.

 

There’s really not much to say about the plot; the plot is rather simplistic and doesn’t really go too many places, so it’s difficult to really talk about it without spoiling everything.

The movie also inexplicably has moments that are out-of-order chronologically, and I can’t really put my finger on why they chose to do that. There’s even a part of the movie that spoiled the entire climax of the movie because it was out of order.

 

There’s also a few other instances in the movie that are just bad writing for convenience sake. And just so you don’t think I’m pulling these words out of my ass, I’ll give you one of the biggest examples:

 

<SPOILER>

So there’s a part of the movie where Sawyer (the protagonist), gets locked in an isolation room by her stalker. The stalker then tries to emotionally manipulate her into liking him. Through her own manipulation, she coerces the stalker to get another patient into the isolation room because she knows she has a shiv on her.

When he brings her in, she slips the shiv off of the patient and then stabs the stalker in the neck, grabs the stalker’s keys, gets out of the isolation room, and closes the door behind her. However, the stalker somehow finds a way to escape the isolation room without a key and re-kidnaps Sawyer.

So let me get this straight, not only was the stalker able to break out of the isolation room even though the movie spent a lot of time showing that Sawyer couldn’t, but he also manages to re-capture her and not die despite the fact that he’s been losing a lot of blood?

How was he able to do this? The movie doesn’t say, but the obvious answer is because if he didn’t manage to escape, then the movie would have been over.

</SPOILER>

 

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Unsane is still a really enjoyable thriller, and it is emotionally effective when it comes to its concept. However, this is the case despite the simple plot that takes logical shortcuts to keep going, and despite the odd filming style that I still can’t grasp why it was chosen.

The positives in the movie truly do balance out the negatives. I would certainly recommend this movie if you want to see a decent psychological horror movie, or if you like indie movies. Aside from that though, the film really doesn’t do anything extraordinary.

5 out of 10