Director: Steven Soderbergh
Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
Unsane is the newest thriller offering from seasoned director Steven Soderbergh- following the new girl in town, Sawyer (Claire Foy) as she battles severe paranoia whilst starting a new job, meeting new people. Seeking out therapy to work through her issues (she was badly harassed and stalked in her old home town, and now is afraid she sees her stalker around every corner), Sawyer finds herself tricked into voluntarily committing herself to a mental institution, with no way out in sight. What is already a terrifying premise is magnified when it becomes clear to Sawyer that her stalker is working at the institution, and using the circumstance to hold his power over her.
Whilst the plot is somewhat convoluted- and feels slightly too convenient that Sawyers stalker would find a job at the mental institution that she has found herself trapped it (maybe it would be more believable if the whole thing was part of his plan?) the claustrophobia the situation inspires in the audience works, and even if you don’t scare easily- you will be feeling horribly uncomfortable all the way through.
The idea has been explored in movies before- take 2010 hit Shutter Island. Who can forget Rachel Solando explaining the conspiracy of the island to Teddy Daniels- “They’ll find some trauma in your past, everyone has one- but that is what they’ll point at and say that was it. That’s what cracked him.” After all- you can argue your sanity all you want, but who will believe you? This is the conundrum Sawyer is faced with. Nurses, doctors, policemen and even the other patients are convinced she is the most unstable person in the institution- and as the movie goes on, even the audience will begin to question her.
Claire Foy is a revelation. She plays a strong, indignant Sawyer who never gives up, no matter the circumstances. She is unstable, sure, but there’s no denying the journey she takes as a character- learning to stand up for herself and fight during an experience that would break even the toughest of us.
The most interesting aspect about Unsane is the fact that it was shot entirely on an iPhone. This cinematic decision results in a lot of extreme close and mid shots, exaggerating the feeling of being trapped in, which is the perfect choice for this film.
The film has a great premise and some really scary moments. The plot is a little unbelievable at times and the script feels clunky and expositional- especially at the beginning of the film. It goes on for a bit too long and has an unnecessary end scene which undermines the tone of the film. Other than these issues, the film achieves what it sets out to do, and is thoroughly enjoyable. Give it a go!