Unsane – USA, 2018

Unsane is a 2018 American psychological horror thriller film directed, photographed and by Steven Soderbergh (Side EffectsContagion) from a screenplay by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer. The movie stars Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard and Jay Pharaoh.

A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution where she is confronted by her greatest fear — but is it real or is it a product of her delusion?

Reviews:

” …Bernstein and Greer’s script keeps its balance, while Soderbergh keeps things on the right side of exploitation, and none of his shocks come fringed with the kind of intended titillation you’d expect to find in a conventional horror. To pull it all off, the director couldn’t have made a better choice for his lead actor than Foy.” Dan Jolin, Empire

“Other than the iPhone gimmick, what is particularly new about this? Nothing. My reasons for taking this in – the presence of the great Amy Irving and Claire Foy’s terrific and nuanced performance. Everything else – including the stalker story we’ve seen done before (and better) – isn’t worth much of your time.” Michael Klug, Horrorfreak News

“From one angle, it plays like an old-school exploitation flick, one of those damsel-in-distress freak-outs in which an intrepid heroine faces down danger in a skin-baring top. This being Mr. Soderbergh, peril isn’t sloppily served up with flat line readings, jiggling breasts and lousy cinematography but delivered with slyness and jolts.” Manolha Dargis, The New York Times

“It’s a bit frustrating to see Unsane succumb to some traditional traps in the final scenes, especially after being so daring up to that point. Having said that, the first hour is so interesting, Foy is so good, and Soderbergh is so clearly still at the top of his game, that the relative failures of the climax can be forgiven.” Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

“Ultimately, Unsane adds up to a very thought-provoking look at male-female relationships. But the movie is also a remarkably uncomfortable look at where the line exists between sane and insane. It equally makes you question at what point people do or don’t become a threat to themselves and others, and what makes them become dangerous in the first place.” Thomas Humphrey, Screen Anarchy

” …much of the pre-release buzz around the film has stemmed from the fact that Soderbergh shot Unsane entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus. However, that technical aspect is crucial to the movie’s storytelling and serves its narrative well, as opposed to being a gimmick. Although it bites off more than it can chew, Unsane makes for an effectively creepy and visually experimental B movie psycho-thriller.” Sandy Schaefer, Screen Rant

“Given all the grubby, grotesque emotions on display in Unsane, maybe it’s fully appropriate that the film itself so often looks grubby. The murky images onscreen are a match for what Sawyer is feeling, as she’s told she can’t trust her own perceptions or memories, and as everything she trusts to help her gradually fails her.” Tasha Robinson, The Verge

Cast and characters:

  • Claire Foy as Sawyer Valentini – Vampire AcademyFrankenstein and the Vampyre: A Dark and Stormy Night; Season of the Witch; Being Human TV series
  • Joshua Leonard as David – The Blair Witch Project
  • Jay Pharoah
  • Juno Temple – Horns
  • Aimee Mullins – Stranger Things
  • Amy Irving – The Fury; Carrie

Production:

Unsane was shot entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus.

The film was released theatrically in the United States via Soderbergh’s Fingerprint Releasing banner on March 23, 2018.

Trivia:

Not to be confused with Dario Argento’s Tenebrae (1982), which was retitled Unsane for its US release.

 

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