Plot: Sawyer (Claire Foy) has moved to a new town, hundreds of miles from her friends and family, to seek a new start and distance from her past. A man became obsessed with her and stalked her relentlessly, to the point she had to change up her entire routine, her entire life, to avoid his presence. Although she is now in a new place with a new job and pretty much a new life, she continues to be haunted by her stalker and sees him in the various men she encounters. Tired of this paranoia, she seeks treatment and hopes a therapist can help her find a true fresh start. The first appointment goes well, but she soon finds herself going through an intake procedure and soon after, she is committed to the hospital’s mental health ward. A tense, on edge woman already, the experience pushes her over the brink and she acts out in aggressive ways, landing herself a longer stay in the process. When she notices that her stalker works on the ward, she panics and tries to convince the other care providers that she is in danger. But is her stalker really there or is Sawyer’s mental state much worse than she assumed?
Entertainment Value: A lean, no frills thriller shot in claustrophobic style on iPhone cameras, Unsane doesn’t break new ground or go for broke, but it does offer a tight, effective narrative and some impressive atmosphere. The story seeps melodrama, but still feels grounded and plausible, at least until the finale, when things unravel into more intense elements. I appreciated that Unsane offers some interesting social commentary as well, with mental health care and the reluctance to listen to the concerns of women touched upon. These themes are prominent within the narrative, but we aren’t clubbed over the head with them, which makes them more effective and organic, at least from my perspective. The story might not be a new one, but it has some fresh brushstrokes and the atmosphere is quite good, bolstered by some intense, up close shots that make you feel as trapped as Claire at times. The pace is brisk and as I said, the movie is lean and has minimal filler, so every scene propels us forward. Claire Foy is superb in the lead, while Joshua Leonard is competent and the small role from Matt Damon was, interesting? Foy drives the movie and turns in a pretty fearless effort, a star making turn perhaps. I wasn’t blown back by Unsane, but it is a skilled, fun thriller that kind of falls apart toward the end, but has an excellent lead up.
No nakedness. There is a scene that shows an attempted rape, but it is interrupted and no sexual content is present otherwise. There’s a couple bursts of violence in this, with a little bloodshed involved at times. This is limited to some brief, quick injuries that are shown, but go by so fast you don’t see much. This includes a slash, eye trauma, and other blade work and again, while some blood can be seen, the violence isn’t shown in graphic or lingering detail. The dialogue is efficient and skilled, but also has some good melodrama and dysfunction, which add fun. Sawyer is a brash, impulsive woman who seems to thrive on confrontation, so she sounds off often to sometimes humorous ends, while Leonard’s creepy persona ratchets up the cringe value. Foy’s performance as Sawyer is so bold and aggressive at times as well, which ensures she makes the most of her bigger moments in the script. As for craziness, the colorful characters and tight, claustrophobic visuals earn a point, but otherwise this one stays within well established thriller tropes for the most part.
Overall Insanity: 1/10