I recently watched a movie called “Unsane” and I thought it was fairly interesting and did a good job of covering issues that many people tend to overlook. The movie falls under the horror and thriller genres and does a good job of making the film tense. Here’s my review and thoughts on this film. I’m going to mention several moments of the film so Some vague spoilers ahead
1.) Filmed with an IPhone 7 Plus: Yes you read that right, the whole film is viewed through the lens of a IPhone 7 Plus. Now before you scoff and start laughing, know that it’s not a amateur film. The cinematography is clearly done by a professional. It’s not a shaky cam/found footage film either. I am personally impressed with how well they Managed to film it.
2.) The setting: It’s set in present day US. The characters are dressed in modern day clothing, they use present day technology such as smart phones, dating apps are shown and the language they use is what you’d expect from many people today. Most of the film takes place in a psych ward with a few scenes taking place in surrounding areas.
3.) The protagonist: A young attractive female office worker who is between her late 20s and early 30s. Her name is Sawyer Valentini( portrayed by Claire Foye), she seems to be living a ordinary life like most people but is dealing with a serious problem and unfortunately for her that problem gets in her in a very sticky situation. That problem is a stalker. Sawyer is a very interesting character, viewers may empathize with her but also shake their heads at some of the mistakes she makes that keep getting her in bigger trouble. The protagonist seeks a therapist to overcome her paranoia of a stalker but ends up getting institutionalized against her will due to the shady nature of the the psych ward the therapist works for. Claire plays this role so well and even though the actress is from the UK, she managed to act out a perfect American accent.
4.) The antagonist: Sawyer’s stalker is the main antagonist in this film, his name is David Strine(portrayed by Joshua Leonard). At first the viewers will just assume he’s just a creep but as the film goes on, it’s revealed that he is much worse than a simple “peeping Tom”. He is a cold hearted person and also knows all about the protagonist’s life including daily routines and what she likes to eat. The protagonist reveals that he was close to her family. David is also much smarter than what the viewers think, since he is usually one step ahead of the protagonist. David coincidentally happens to be a orderly at the psych ward where the protagonist gets institutionalized. Joshua plays this role very well. He manages to portray the character of David in such a convincing manner.
5.) The issue of stalking: The film does a excellent job in depicting how serious of a issue stalking is. It shows how people are unwilling to believe a victim of stalking and how almost nothing is done to prevent stalking except for restraining orders. It also shows how some people incorrectly label victims of stalking as “mentally unstable”. While the film does the cliché “Male perpetrator, female victim” males can also be victims of stalking just as much as women but most males keep quiet due to social stigma, especially if it’s a female stalker.
6.) The issue of corruption/abuse in psych wards: The movie also does a good job of showing how even today there is still corruption in some mental institutions/psych wards. Specifically the inhumane action of holding mentally stable people against their will. The movie even shows how the corruption may be linked to profit in some occasions and also the notorious attitudes that many(not all) Mental health experts have which is to doubt the claims of their patients/clients and their attempts to change harmless deviant behavior of their patients. This movie may make viewers question just how many people are wrongly institutionalized, especially since not all mental health issues require a person to be institutionalized.
7.) Read thoroughly before signing: The main reason the protagonist got detained in a psych ward was because she signed some papers given to her by her “therapist” without reading them. Little did she know that the papers were “consent” for her to be institutionalized in the psych ward for a few days. This is a important lesson to all people, do not sign something without thoroughly reading it. If you notice something shady, do not sign it.
8.) The irony of the antagonist : Near the climax of the film, the antagonist reveals just how obsessed he is with Sawyer and how unstable he actually is, which is ironic since he is a orderly. The director did a good job in managing to get the audience to feel just a little bit sorry for him but then almost instantly remind the audience that he is the bad guy.
9.) Trojan horse and slip up: The downfall of the psych ward in this movie was interesting because it was the result of a Trojan horse and a slip up from the antagonist. This movie shows how Trojan horses similar to the one in the movie are a good way to deter and prevent abuse in psych wards and prosecute corrupt psych ward staff. The movie did a good job showing how the antagonist wasn’t a “Gary Stu” and had flaws because after all he’s only human.
10.) Smarter than you think: I personally liked the climax because it redeemed the protagonist’s intelligence. While David was rather intelligent, Sawyer was shown to be intelligent as well despite making many mistakes. She even outsmarted David which lead to David’s demise. There is some foreshadowing leading up to the demise of the antagonist but I don’t think many people caught it.
11.)The ending: It’s not a cliffhanger or a sad ending but it’s also not exactly a “happily ever after” ending. It’s definitely a satisfactory ending because the protagonist came out on top in her struggle against her stalker and justice was administered to the psych ward staff but the movie ends abruptly with a few questions left answering making it somewhat anticlimactic.
12.) Overall: I say this movie is a 8.8/10 due to the creative idea of filming it with a iPhone, the interesting story, the acting and the fact it covered the two important topics of stalking and corruption/mistreatment in psych wards. Also Matt Damon’s cameo was interesting. The director successfully showed that stalking and mistreatment in psych wards are two things that need to be addressed more often and stopped. Many viewers of this film may brainstorm solutions to stop these unacceptable practices, such as undercover police, a special law enforcement branch that keep psych ward/mental institution staff in check or just shutdown all psych wards to release the patients as long as the former patients are supervised afterwards. As for stalkers, perhaps a GPS implant to monitor a stalker would be necessary.
The only things I didn’t like were it’s cliché “male perpetrator, female victim” plot. The cliché “male perpetrator, female victim” is overused and is often politicized. While it’s true many stalking victims are female, there are many males who are victims of stalking as well. I would have rated the movie higher if it featured things from a male character’s perspective.
Even though Unsane is fiction, people need to understand that things like that happen to some people in real life and these things needs to be stopped.