Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Unsane’ is an Engaging, Unsettling Psychological Thriller

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!


Thankfully, Steven Soderbergh’s retirement was short-lived. Last year he returned to feature films with the delightful hillbilly heist flick Logan Lucky. Now the acclaimed director returns with the genre thriller Unsane, which is probably getting the most attention because Soderbergh shot the film entirely on an iPhone. What could easily be written off as a simple gimmick is so much more, as Soderbergh uses Unsane as a means to take a genre twist on the warped healthcare industry in America while crafting a solid, unsettling thriller that also tackles long-standing trauma and how we as a society rarely listen to victims.

Sawyer (Claire Foy) is young professional working in a bank. She’s been dealing with the trauma of a stalker that has left a lingering effect on her psyche, unsure if the next bearded man she encounters is her stalker. Sawyer seeks counseling for her lingering problems at Highland Creek, a local hospital. She signs some forms after chatting with her therapist, only to find herself trapped within the hospital. Sawyer has been declared a danger to herself and others by this new therapist and thus must be institutionalized for a 48 hour period. Horrified at the prospect of a forced stay in a psychiatric institution, Sawyer lashes out violently which only means that her stay will be extended to a week. Things get even worse for Sawyer when she becomes convinced that one of the male nurses in the hospital (Joshua Leonard) is the stalker that had terrorized her in the past.

There’s a sense of “Is she or isn’t she?” as to the topic of Sawyer’s sanity. Her interactions with fellow patients vary wildly, with a kindly and understanding one (Jay Pharoah) and a violent and unstable one (Juno Temple). Soderbergh’s use of the iPhone my not be the most aesthetically pleasing cinematic device, but the digitized images from an imperfect piece of technology adds to the sense of unease that permeates throughout Unsane. Using an iPhone, Soderbergh starts out shooting the film with very few camera movements, rarely showing the limitations of the device when in motion. As the story escalates, Soderbergh abandons the static camera and yet retains a judicious sense of the limitations, though the imperfections of the technology amplify the overwhelming uncertainty. While Unsane’s iPhone photography may come across as a gimmick, it often works in sync with the unsettling aspects of the storyline.

Once Unsane begins to ramp up its action with a series of reveals that are most obviously spoilers, Foy asserts herself as a commanding leading lady in a way that those who weren’t fans of The Crown have yet to see. One aspect that is not a spoiler is the idea that Highland Creek exploits the cries for help of their patients to institutionalize them and bleed their insurance carrier dry. It’s an interesting genre twist on the broken aspects of our health care system, one that Soderbergh has explored in recent films like Contagion and Side Effects. The screenplay by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer cuts right into the heart of how patients and victims of abuse, mainly women, are rarely listened to by authorities. Those suffering with mental illness or have been traumatized by abuse are told to take their pills and tough it out, which in this particular case isn’t much of a solution and Soderbergh uses it as an effective horror device.

Unsane may be a minor work by Soderbergh, it’s still a fun piece of genre fare with a bit more on its mind than central question of its main character’s sanity. The film definitely veers into some violent trashy territory that some may find objectionable, but I was rapt by this unsettling psychological thriller that sees Soderbergh utilizing new technology to make daring genre films on the cheap. I may not love the aesthetic from the iPhone-shot cinematography, but I’d happily take this over a self-imposed retirement any day.

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
digimon tri cast
Digimon Tri Cast Interview at Shout! Factory

Digimon Tri is the sequel to the second season of Digimon...

ronnie coleman
Become a King with a Free Gym Pass – Ronnie Coleman: The King Review

A long, long time ago before IG fitness models were a thing,...

netflix anime
New Anime Series for Netflix Starting this Fall

Netflix announced two new anime series during the Netflix Anime panel at...

Event News Event Reviews
Blizzard SDCC 2018
Blizzard SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment Brings Massive Lineup to SDCC

Blizzard in SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment brings Overwatch, StarCraft, and...

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018
Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR and Stern Pinball

Nuclear Blast SDCC 2018 – Nuclear Blast Teams Up with JSR...

Anime expo 2018
Anime Expo 2018 Brings the Heat to Los Angeles

Last year, I picked on Anime Expo not being worth the...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Exclusive Interview with Mark Mowbray of KLab

Established in 2000, KLab‘s goal is to create a world of excitement...

Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene
Mondo Games Unleashes Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene Board Game

MONDO GAMES unleashes Jurassic Park: The Chaos Gene board game for 25th Anniversary...

Great Coffee Break
Escape Work By Playing The Great Coffee Break

You can escape work, in more ways than one, by playing The...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams
Sam Kieth Makes Long-Awaited Return to The Outback in Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams

SAN DIEGO, CA and BURBANK, CA (June 21, 2018) – Batman...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
anime pls
Anime Pls by Bioworld – Exclusive Interview

Bioworld Merchandising is a pop culture product expert. The company is considered...

heaven's feel
Fate/stay night [Heaven’s Feel] THE MOVIE I. presage flower Blu-ray Release

TLDR Aniplex of America announced that box office hit, Fate/stay night ...

Few Even Come Close – EVEN H2 Headphones Review

Even headphones are like having prescription glasses, but for your ears...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
NJPW G1 Special from San Francisco Results

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) the King of Sports returns to...

Jeanie Buss & MGM TV Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women of Wrestling Events

Jeanie Buss and MGM Television Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women...

Kevin Belington Faces Martin Nguyen for the ONE FC Interim Bantamweight Title

From ONE FC – 07 June 2018 – Manila, Philippines: The...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Harlan Ellison: A tribute (of sorts)

For the longest time in my life I was afraid of...

Iron Fist Racist
Is Marvel Iron Fist Racist? Part 2- Yeah…

After the casting controversy, two shows, and a guest appearance in Marvel...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s end: The Flash season 4


Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

%d bloggers like this: