Review: UNSANE

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Regardless of what one might think about any particular Steven Soderbergh film, there cannot be any denial of the filmmaker’s skills.  Soderbergh is a director who chooses to direct, shoot and edit his own work and can do so outstandingly.  The man is a master quite honestly,  and though he may be working with a script with problems, he will do his best to make it fly and look amazing at the same time.  His latest movie, a horror-thriller titled Unsane, actually has a darn good script, so everyone should know damn well, that Soderbergh has another great picture to offer.  

This film’s story revolves around the day-to-day life and a particularly alarming problem faced by protagonist Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy).  Sawyer lives a mostly humdrum life, working a job she doesn’t particularly like with a sleazy boss she likes even less.  Still, despite the stagnant nature of her career, Sawyer has some psychological baggage when it comes to her personal life.  Wanting to deal with this problem head-on, she seeks out counseling at a support center where she discusses her problems.  The trouble is, Sawyer’s very unfiltered and sarcastic nature raises a “red flag” with her counselor who cons her into involuntarily committing herself to a mental institution.  While locked up in the facility, Sawyer’s sanity gets put to the test when she believes she is being stalked by someone from her past.

With a script by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, Soderbergh delivers a damn fine horror-thriller that entertains on multiple levels.  The filmmakers do exceptional work in delivering humor, psychological twists, genuinely frightening horror, and nail-biting suspense.  Soderbergh actually shot the whole film on an Iphone and he makes it work well to his advantage and the advantage of his audiences.  Soderbergh uses the device well to give audiences some really cool shots with the camera acting as either a fly on the wall, a creeping stalker, and also by giving the audience some warped and distorted views of the scenes.

Claire Foy absolutely shines in the lead role as Sawyer Valentini, a mostly, no-nonsense lady who can come across as tough and hard, but also has some psych problems which make her quite vulnerable at times.  The film also stars Joshua Leonard, as Sawyer’s frightening stalker David Strine.  Leonard gives a great performance in this role, as he can both frustrate and unnerve quite well.  The film also stars Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Amy Irving, Polly McKie,  and Raul Castillo who all perform well in their respective roles.

So, now director Steven Soderbergh can add horror-thriller to his list of other movie genres he has tackled and done well.  It amazes me what the filmmaker has accomplished and continues to accomplish.  It also makes me very happy that, after taking a brief retirement from filmmaking, he has decided to return to work.  After this film and Logan Lucky (which I also liked very much), Soderbergh shows he is still in great form and seems ready for new and exciting ways to create cinema.

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