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Film Review: 'Unsane' is as Unsettling as Psychological Thrillers Get

March 23, 2018Ben MK

There are movies that get under your skin, and then there are movies like Unsane, which burrows so deep under your skin that you won’t be able to dig it out for days.

An effective and creepy psychological thriller, the film follows Sawyer Valentini (The Crown's Claire Foy), an office worker who has been building emotional walls around herself long before she became the object of unwanted admiration for a man named David Strine (Joshua Leonard). Having relocated to Pennsylvania from Boston in an attempt to escape her stalker and regain some semblance of a normal life, Sawyer's grip on reality is shattered, however, after she makes an ill-fated attempt to seek counseling at Highland Creek Behavioral Center.

When a brief lunchtime visit with one of its therapists leads to Sawyer being involuntarily committed for psychiatric observation, she doesn't know what to think. Obviously, she — a sane person — doesn't belong in such a place, so she tries to call the police and causes a commotion with the staff, all to no avail. However, she soon finds her own convictions thrown into doubt, especially when she becomes convinced that David has followed her all the way from Boston and has stolen someone's identity in order to get a job as one of the facility's orderlies.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, anchored by an unforgettable performance from Foy, and shot entirely on an iPhone to maximize its voyeuristic aesthetic, Unsane is the type of film that reveals itself piece by piece. But even after screenwriters Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer clear up any ambiguity about the truth of Sawyer's situation, that doesn't mean that the movie has shaken all the surprises out of its sleeve.

With a twisty-turny third act that brings Unsane to its ultimate conclusion, the result one of the most tense and unnerving experiences you'll have in a cinema this year. Add to that the excellent supporting cast, which includes Juno Temple, Jay Pharoah and Amy Irving, and you certainly won't think yourself crazy for buying a ticket.

Unsane releases March 23rd, 2018 from 20th Century Fox. The film has an MPAA rating of R for disturbing behavior, violence, language, and sex references. Its runtime is 1 hr. 37 min.

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