A Brief History
On March 20, 2018, we are still recovering from screening the new horror/drama/thriller, Unsane, which premiers on Friday, March 23, 2018 across the United States. This movie is something special, filmed entirely on smart phones, but with the excellent picture quality you would expect from normal Hollywood camera equipment. The unique filming contributes to the creepy pall the movie casts over the audience’s grasp of reality. Without monsters, demons, or excessive gore, the film nonetheless created more suspense, anxiety and terror in us than any movie in recent years. The audience clapped at the end, if that is any clue!
Directed to perfection by Steven Soderbergh, the Academy Award winning director of such hit films as Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Magic Mike, Contagion, and the Ocean’s 11 trilogy, the movie stars English actress Claire Foy as a troubled young lady trying to make her way in the business world while dealing with some emotional issues. Her attempt at an innocent session of counseling takes a turn for the worse when she finds herself temporarily committed in a mental hospital.
Without further spoilers, suffice to say the ordeal her character, Sawyer Valentini, goes through strikes close to home, as in “What would I do if I found myself in her position?” The feeling of being trapped in a claustrophobic nightmare permeates the audience as if it is the individual movie goer experiencing the frustration and possibly madness of the main character. Is she nuts, or is she wrongfully being held against her will? Will she ever get out and go back to her life? If she does get out, will she be mentally and emotionally scarred? Is the hospital and its staff evil or just doing their jobs?
Running 98 minutes, the film never bogs down, and the pace continues to pick up steadily throughout the movie, making it feel much shorter. The casting of supporting roles is excellent, especially Jay Pharaoh as an inpatient recovering opioid addict and Juno Temple as an obviously mentally disturbed inmate.
One trivial aspect of the film is the incredibly short credits at the end, presumably due to the filming done on smart phones (iPhone 7 Plus in 4K), filming done in secret with a tiny crew. You would never suspect such a covert, small operation from watching the finished product, which is remarkably as polished as normal films, just with a certain je ne sais quois that is difficult to define. Unsane is a really nifty motion picture.
Although the movie got a surprising 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, we would expect a much higher rating. Unsane is one of the best movies we have seen in a while, and we see plenty of movies we like. If you have ever had any reservations about the quality or legitimacy of mental health care in the United States, or if you wonder about how health care providers manipulate insurance policies and patients for profit, this film will scare the daylights out of you.
We give Unsane our highest recommendation and urge all fans of horror and thrillers to see the movie at the theater. Pre-teen children may need a bit of explaining about the mental health system before watching the film, and those kids with anxiety issues should probably stay home. Normal teens should find the movie entertaining, and a bit scary. We did.
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For more information, please see…
Powers, Ron. No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America. Hachette Books, 2017.