One of the most psychologically driven horror movies of 2018 just hit VOD, Unsane. If you enjoy a mystery with your psychological horror movies, then this 2018 gem is for you. Unsane is new to rent on most popular VOD outlets like Xfinity On Demand, Vudu, and YouTube. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, the film stars Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, Amy Irving, Jay Pharoah, and a cameo from Matt Damon.
English actor Claire Foy has thrilled audiences with her portrayal as Princess Elizabeth in the hit Netflix series The Crown, and in Unsane, she trades in a palace for a mental institution. Foy plays Sawyer, a woman who is dealing with anxiety because of being stalked. She is involuntarily committed to a mental institution and believes her stalker works at the facility. But the question is, is he real or a delusion?
Thriller and horror movies involving stalkers and whodunnits centered on mental institutions is nothing new, but per his usual, Soderbergh makes these familiar themes feel fresh. And where movies like Gothika and Asylum failed to hit the mark, Unsane hits the bullseye.
The film starts out with sequences introducing Sawyer to viewers; we see her at her job, talking on the phone with her friend, and meeting up with a date she matched with on a Tinder-like dating app. The first act of the film has an underlying focus on technology, which is fitting since Soderbergh made the movie using only an iPhone.
What makes “Unsane” different from Steven Soderbergh’s other hands-on productions is his use of an iPhone. Free of cumbersome equipment, he wields his camera with the agility of a pencil flying along a sketch pad: https://t.co/xR0urasVA1 pic.twitter.com/IuKoq5Bwgb— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) March 28, 2018
While she is on her date, Sawyer tells the man that his night will end the way he was hoping for, but he can never call her again. Flash-forward to her apartment, the pair are making out and in a freak-out moment, Sawyer flings herself against the wall breaking down with fear.
The story gives viewers a glimpse into two unpleasant realities for many: those who are obsessively stalked and those admitted to shoddy and abusive health facilities. Some took offense to the depiction of health care facilities, while others found the horror film to be sadly accurate. The horror flick also shines a light on what it’s like being a woman who is pursued by an obsessed man. Matt Damon makes a cameo portraying the specialist who helps Sawyer take proactive steps in keeping safe from her stalker, and many will likely find that sequence to be eye-opening.
This is not one of those horror movies that feel unrealistic or fanciful, in fact, the realism of the story is quite intense at times. There is some dark humor that gives some comic relief, in particular, the interactions between Pharoah’s and Foy’s characters. The 97-minute film moves along at a nice pace, and though it does cover some intense issues, the horror movie never becomes too overbearing.
Claire Foy gives a stand-out performance, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor spoke of the research she did for the part.
“Well, obviously, the American medical system is very different to the one that we have in England. So, a lot of the time, I was reading the script and going, ‘Oh, come on, why would anyone ever do that?’ And then I researched it and went, ‘Oh, dear God! No! No!’ I looked as much as humanly possible into how hospitals like that are run, and what the procedure is, and things like that, and I obviously researched people who are victims of stalking, and harassment, and things like that.
“But it was a limited time. We shot for 10 days. There was no rehearsal. It was very much a thinking-on-the-job kind of job, and that’s really why I loved it, because it was very much about just throwing myself in, and not second-guessing myself, and just trusting.”
The fact that this was made over the course of 10 days with no rehearsals is stunning; Unsane accomplished more with 10 days than many blockbusters do with far more time and preparation. If you research this film too much, you are likely to run into details that will spoil parts of the story. Unfortunately, like many horror movies these days, even the trailer reveals too much.
This is the type of movie where the less the viewer knows about, aside from the basic premise, the better. Unsane does a good job delivering some unexpected twists, and the climax packs a punch with an ending that will stick to your skin long after the credits roll. If you enjoy thought-provoking horror films, then this is a must-watch.
Though complimenting it, some critics have called this a B movie, but aside from the ending shot, avid genre fans would likely disagree. This is done too well and sharp to be a B entry into the horror genre; the writing is spectacular, and the directing is brilliant. Often, there are scenes shot where the viewers will feel like they’re with Sawyer, living the nightmare with her.
Because of the outstanding directing, writing, delivery, and performances, Unsane is one of the most gripping horror movies of 2018.