1 August 2018 | GoldenBlunderbuss
A claustrophobic and stressful experience, but amazing all the same
A woman is involuntarily sent to a hostile psychiatric ward after admitting suicidal thoughts over a lengthy stalking ordeal, only to (maybe?) see him in the hospital.
The unique selling point of Unsane, widely known by those who've at least heard of it, is that it was entirely shot on an iPhone. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (of Erin Brockovich, Ocean's 11/ 12 & 13, Magic Mike and Logan Lucky fame), Unsane was brought to theatres for a paltry $1.2m budget and makes an impact with every buck.
It follows the trials of an innocent women (played brilliantly by Claire Foy, the best thing in a great film) held against her will in a psychological ward after admitting suicidal thoughts following a prolonged stalking incident, only to find that her creepy admirer may (or may not) have got himself a job in the hospital to be with her. Her ordeal escalates as she tries to convince the nurses and senior hospital staff that she's not safe only to be constantly ignored or disproven with bureaucracy and paperwork. It's infuriating and the most stressed I've been in a cinema in years, but it's brilliant.
The slow, haunting and unnerving music is reminiscent of The Shining, and the setting - a series of small clinical rooms along a series of long, narrow and repetitive corridors - stifles and disorientates the audience. Meanwhile, the camera's tight aspect ratio and muted colour scheme enhances the claustrophobia. All of this, alongside the frustrating bonds of signatures and consent forms (as well as her often-applied physical manacles) lays the building blocks of a tense thriller which kind of loses its way in the final 15 minutes before bringing it back for a satisfying ending.
It speaks greatly and powerfully to the abuse of authority and trust among strangers, the unaccountability of big business and the real-life dangers of gaslighting - an underhanded form of mental abuse in which someone is psychologically manipulated into doubting their own beliefs, memory or sanity. If, like me, you get triggered by stories of false imprisonment, then by watching Unsane you're in real danger of giving yourself an aneurism ... but you'll still get a thrill out of it all the same.
Best Quote: "Your life slips away from you, you know? Changing your phone number and your email becomes normal. Taking out a restraining order, normal. Relocating to another city, normal."