Presumably Steven Soderburgh’s new film ‘Unsane’ was titled by a 13 year old illiterate Hollywood executive who thinks that erudite is a glue and that the Israel Prime Minster Netanyahu is an internet search engine.
But ‘Unsane’ is a first for Soderburgh being both his first grammatically incorrect titled film, his first horror film and first mainstream Hollywood film shot entirely on a mobile phone perhaps iNSANE might have been better. It’s the latest film in a return to his more experimental origins which saw last year’s ‘Logan Lucky‘ saw him avoid the studio system. The use of the mobile phone though not original with other independent films having beaten him to it it’s the first time an A list director has used the technology. But its well suited to Unsane’s subject matter where Claire Foy finds herself accidently committed to a mental health facility unable to escape. Trapped in her surroundings the camera ideally captures her predicament. Shot in a 4:3 ratio as seen in the recent ‘A Ghost Story’, camera angles accentuate the low ceilings and it all adds to the claustrophobia. The slight fish eye lens effect distorts things further and its naturalistic lighting compounds Foy’s situation. It’s ironic that later in the film that cinematographers might cheer the line, ’Think of the cell phone as your enemy’ – something which anyone who’s been caught and uploaded on YouTube will understand only too well – we’re looking at you Jamie Carragher!
Foy’s predicament has come about due to relocating away from her mother to a new city to escape a man who stalked her since the death of her own father. Essentially this is a psychodrama where it’s a constant tease for the audience as to whether she is mad. When she starts believing her stalker works as the facility that her psychosis seems confirmed and the denial by the staff of anything being awry is a sly indictment of US medicine and care as a business.
‘Unsane’ evolves through different genres having evolved as a psychodrama it moves into thriller territory before finally stepping into horror. Much like wondering why Amanda Holden is a judge on Britain’s Got Talent the film’s first half is a puzzle but once it becomes clear what’s going on it does settle into the familiar tropes of horror. Whilst Unsane would not be expensive to have made it might be galling to audiences to pay full price for a cinema ticket to a main stream film and so cheaply. Soderburgh is a proficient film maker and every film of his is always of interest and his move into horror, whilst not ground breaking, the process is but that’s not always enough to make a great film this is not one of his best.
Here’s the trailer…….