Review by Monique Thompson
Sawyer Valentini relocates from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape from the man who’s been stalking her for the last two years. While consulting with a therapist, Valentini unwittingly signs in for a voluntary 24-hour commitment to the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Her stay at the facility soon gets extended when doctors and nurses begin to question her sanity. Sawyer now believes that one of the staffers is her stalker — and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive and fight her way out.
Imagine going to a consult with a therapist, only to find out that you’ve inadvertently signed your freedom away and now committed to the psych ward at a mental institution. That’s exactly what happens in Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane . What should be categorized as more of a suspense-thriller, than a horror film, Unsane follows Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy), who finds herself pleading for her sanity in the walls of Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Starting her life over in a new city with a new job in hopes of escaping her stalker, Sawyer is suffering from the psychological effects of being stalked by a man for the past 2 years, David Strine (Joshua Leonard). Searching for support groups for victims of stalkers, Sawyer sees an advertisement for the behavioral center and decides to visit one day to speak with one of the therapists. Little does she know, what she thinks is just a routine form turns out to be a personal consent form admitting her into the institution. So much for reading the fine print right?!?!
During her visit, Sawyer tries her best to convince the staff that she never agreed to be committed, each brazen attempt a total failure. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Sawyer starts to believe that her relentless stalker is now employed with the institution. Sawyer befriends one of the patients, Nate (Jay Pharoah), who shares some troubling information with her regarding the institutions practices. While trying to fight her own psychological demons, Sawyer is willing to take whatever measures necessary to be released.
Unsane totally surprised me and turned out to be quite decent. When you hear that a full motion picture has been shot on an iPhone, you may actually find yourself questioning not only the production, but for surely the quality. (Sorry, I’m team Android when it comes to mobile devices). Being shot in 4K, the films clarity is excellent so unless you researched the film like I did, or of course reading this review, you’d never know it was captured on a cellular device.
The acting in the film is also solid. Foy portrays emotion very naturally and has a very sarcastic sense of humor as Sawyer. Comedian Jay Pharoah is also a gem in this film. His character is one that you’ll not only find yourself really liking but he gets to do what he’s known for doing, make people laugh. Sometimes psychological films can be a bit blah and hard to follow but Unsane gets to the point and doesn’t take your brain in a million rollercoaster loops. I would definitely recommend this film as one for movie night.