Saturday, March 31, 2018

Movie Review: Unsane

Insanity is a profitable business in this thriller from Steven Soderbergh. Using an iPhone to film scenes, the shots are some that are physically impossible for a large camera used in other films. I've not seen Claire Foy in anything but The Crown which I enjoy a lot so I was excited to see her in something new and sporting an American accent. Foy plays Sawyer Valentini, a troubled woman who hopes to rise up in her new job at a bank. She's moved to a new city and her mother Angela (Amy Irving) is concerned that she has made this major change for seemingly no reason. Sawyer does have a reason for moving that becomes apparent when a date goes awry when she tries to hook up with a random guy but then she freaks out and locks herself in the bathroom. Her problems reach a point where she decides to seek out help at a mental health facility. 

She has a session with a psychologist who grows concerned when Sawyer mentions that she thinks about taking her life and gives specific details about how she would do it. She fills out forms and waits for assistance. The receptionist tells her to wait and behaves strangely towards her. A nurse Dennis (Zach Cherry) directs her back to a room and takes the items out of her purse. Sawyer tries to figure out what is happening when another nurse Boles (Polly McKie) asks her to take off her clothes. Sawyer realizes there must be some sort of mistake but they insist that she signed the papers and that she should cooperate for her own good. She is directed to a room with beds and other patients. Sawyer freaks out and believes that she is seeing her stalker David Strine (Joshua Leonard) but it's just Dennis who she slaps in the face.

Sawyer is treated as a violent patient. She is tied down and drugged. Another patient Nate Hoffman (Jay Pharoah) takes pity on her but the patient in the bed next to her Violet (Juno Temple) is threatening and insults Sawyer. The unwilling patient tries to avoid trouble but she is truly disturbed when David shows up under a different name and denies knowing her. Sawyer tries to maintain her sanity as Nate explains the situation to her. The mental health facility needs patients to bill their insurance and can have them be voluntarily committed by tricking them into signing their freedom away. Sawyer learns that Nate has a phone and manages to call her mother who comes down and tries to figure out a way to get her out but even the lawyers don't have an answer. 

Sawyer continues to have trouble adapting, fighting with Violet and assaulting guards. She cusses out David Strine every chance she gets. She tells her story to Nate and the two of them form a relationship. David watches Sawyer and decides to remove Nate by bringing him down to the facility basement and drugging him so he dies of an overdose. It is revealed later that Nate was a journalist investigating the corrupt facility. After a bad drug incident, Sawyer is locked up in solitary confinement where David is able to have his way with her. Sawyer tricks David into bringing down Violet where she can steal her shank and stabs David in the throat. She escapes but David is there to knock her out. She is taken to his cabin in the woods but escapes and runs away until she finally kills him. The cops learn of the malfeasance at the facility and lock up the administrator. 

Unsane has its moments of terror and anxiety-inducing drama but the film never delivers on the horror and the story just sort of plays out as expected. The gimmick of filming on the iPhone is cool at first but the fisheye lens feels overused and I feel like they could have done even more by strapping a smartphone to a fan or whatever. Still, I really like seeing Claire Foy expand her career as her ability to convey emotion with a simple facial expression is brilliant. I wish the film had delved more into horror but was still pretty entertained.

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