I'm a freelance writer living in Perth, Western Australia.
Published May 21st 2018
This film is an absolute must see
Unsane is an incredible American horror/thriller film which left me near speechless by its end. I literally could only say the word "wow" to the person sitting next to me by the time the credits rolled. It took me some time to say anything else out loud, while I processed the brilliance I'd just witnessed and found absolutely amazing, disturbing and did I mention 'wow'!
The film stars Clare Foy (The Crown & Vampire Academy), as troubled businesswoman Sawyer Valentini, who has traveled across the country for a fresh start in a new city to escape the clutches of her stalker, a man named David Strine (played by Joshua Leonard (1999's The Blair Witch Project & Bates Motel, who plays his character far too disturbingly well!)
Despite the terrors of her past, all seems to be going well for Sawyer, until she begins to have flashbacks and looks online to find psychological help to get past her fears. However, this is only the start of what is to become a living nightmare. She signs some "standard forms" without reading them first and is held against her will in a mental institution for a minimum of 7 days.
Joshua is one of the most disturbing characters in modern film history
Sawyer finds herself locked up with a group of people she doesn't get along with, including a psychotic girl named Violet, played by Juno Temple (Disney's Maleficent & Atonement), who threatens her with a concealed weapon. She also finds herself housed with a recovering opiate addict, Nate Hoffman, played by Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live & Ride Along), who in many ways absolutely shines in his role, as the witty, smart and handsome character who Sawyer becomes quite fond of. They are all under the supervision of horrible guards and nurses who manhandle the patients and on top of all this, Sawyer is convinced that one of them is her stalker and no one, not even the local police will believe her.
Eventually Sawyer gets in touch with her mother played by Amy Irving (1976's Carrie & 2000's Traffic), who does everything in her power to try to free her daughter, but because of the signed forms, there is nothing that can be done, teaching the audience the very important lesson to read contracts and forms, before signing on that dotted line!
This film was expertly written by Jonathan Bernstein (The Spy Next Door & Just My Luck) and James Greer (Diegesis & Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector) and directed in a genius way by Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies And Videotapes & Erin Brockovich), who chose to have the entire film shot with the use of an iPhone 7 Plus in 4K, using the FiLMiC Pro app, proving that you don't have to be mega rich anymore to produce an incredible film.
The lens used truly adds to the feel of the story, particularly as it progresses into the dark place in which Sawyer has found herself, both psychically and mentally. As the line between paranoia and reality is ever more blurred as the story progresses, the audience is left to ponder whether Sawyer is really seeing her stalker working at the hospital, or whether it is all in her clearly traumatised psyche for the majority of the film.
As someone who went into the cinema knowing very little about this film, I was surprised to find that it was written and directed by an all-male trio. They perfectly captured what it is like to be a female victim of domestic violence, PTSD and/or stalking, even to the point where it truly shows and even mocks the ways in which women are told to live their lives in order to "remain safe". This is approached with magnificent and very dark humour and is so true to life for those who are surviving day to day, that it was applauded by the mostly female audience I saw it with. That being said, this film could hit far too close to home for some and comes with a severe and extreme trigger warning.
Unsane just gets more and more disturbing as the film goes on and will leave you absolutely cringing in your seat by the time the credits roll.
Unsane is rated MA and is not suitable for those under the age of 15, as it contains strong themes and violence.