15 – 98mins – 2018
THE GIFT OF FEAR
Magic Mike maestro Steven Soderbergh bounces back after what was, for me, an unengaging misfire (2017’s heist dramedy Logan Lucky) with a bold and unconventional low-key experiment: psychological thriller Unsane was filmed entirely on iPhones! While the film isn’t shot as though diegetically through a mobile phone (fear not, shaky cam haterz!), Soderbergh ratchets up the paranoia and tension with many tight angles and close ups. Combine this with murky, natural lighting and a lack of cinematic sheen and Unsane certainly succeeds in evoking a dark, unsettling tone.
Queen of The Crown Claire Foy – replete with bags under her eyes and minimal make up – delivers a superbly intense performance as stalker victim Sawyer Valentini. Though bright and fiercely independent, this business woman’s enigmatic past does hint at troubles beneath the surface. Troubles which are confirmed when she unwittingly commits herself to a behavioural facility after a lunchtime walk-in session with a support worker.
As well as fighting for her freedom against a mental health system which appears to be against her, Sawyer is also (violently) adamant that her ex-cum-stalker (Joshua Leonard) has followed her from Boston to Pennsylvania – and has got a job on the night shift at her institution, under a false name! But can Sawyer’s wild accusations be taken seriously, or is she suffering haunting visions from her traumatic past?
Filmed on a miniscule budget from a script penned by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, Soderbergh sets up a tantalising horror-mystery which is also cunningly open to interpretation and post-cinema debate. However, I personally believe he showed his hand too soon, and thereon in the film plays out rather predictably and far too simplistically. I also feel the grand revelation (which I won’t spoil here) hinges on a convenience too implausible to be swallowed. However well Unsane presents itself in all other areas, it suffers greatly from this major niggling flaw.
CR@B’s Claw Score: