TWO AND A HALF STARS A woman is committed to a mental hospital where her stalker may be working.
Claire Foy, Juno Temple
Steven Soderbergh (TRAFFIC, OCEAN’S etc), the poster boy for film lovers everywhere, returns to his experimental roots (vis a vis SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPES although having upgraded the camera to an iPhone 7) to create this psycho-sexual thriller about a woman involuntarily committed to a hospital for the mentally challenged.
Until it goes off the rails (more about that in a moment), UNSANE is a tasty tale about mental fragility backed up with a provocative comment on exploitative corporate shenanigans and the lengths they’ll go to steal a buck. Emotionally tender Sawyer (THE CROWN’s truly excellent Claire Foy) has moved town to hide from her stalker. She confides a little too much information to her counsellor and before you can say ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, she’s has been incarcerated. Turns out it’s an insurance scam, but given Sawyer has a tendency to see her stalker everywhere, perhaps there is good reason she’s been locked up. Things go from terrible to unbearable when the stalker turns up as a nurse in the hospital. Or has he?
SPOILER ALERT: Sadly he has and it’s about here that UNSANE switches from compelling to completely silly as Soderbergh amps up the bloodletting and drops psycho in favour of slasher. There’s a tidy kicker at the end but it’s unable to redeem a 90 minute film padded from a 60 minute story by way of gruesome, gratuitous and maniacal hoo-ha. Foy is terrific, and Soderbergh’s fish-eye, iPhone distortion is wonderfully upsetting, as is the uncertainty of Sawyer’s emotional state.
Then there’s the blood… Were it not for the challenging set-up, UNSANE could stand as an above-average psycho-splatter. But there was, and it isn’t. Instead it sits in a murky space that’s neither one thing nor the other, potentially infuriating both audiences while pleasing none.