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Unsane (2018)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 6/19/2018

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/21/2018

My assumption is that everyone is an expert on something. Every person has that one topic about which they are knowledgeable and, if asked, could provide concrete information on that subject. Those who know me will tell you that I know a little about a lot of things, but I would like to think that I'm extremely competent in a few areas. And when one of those items emerges in a movie, I'm particularly astute. Unsane takes place in the world of mental health care, an arena with which I'm well-versed, so I was very interested in that aspect of the film. However, I soon learned that behavioral health issues were the least of this film's problems.

Claire Foy stars in Unsane as Sawyer Valentini, a woman who has recently moved to a new city following an incident involving a stalker. She's gotten a good job and made some casual connections at work, but she's still having difficultly adjusting, with the main issue being her sense of feeling unsafe and thinking that she's seeing her stalker around town. She visits Highland Creek, a mental health clinic, in order to see a counselor. She tells her story to the clinician and feels some relief -- so much so that she asks to make a follow-up appointment. Sawyer is shocked when the staff's demeanor suddenly changes and she learns that she can't leave the facility. Assuming that this is all a mis-understand, Sawyer thinks that she can talk her way out of the place. However, she soon realizes that she must interact with the other patients and comply with the rules. But, being locked inside is on the beginning of her problems.

Please allow me to go ahead and get the soapbox portion of the review out of the way. In most states, if someone goes to a mental health facility, even for an outpatient visit, and discloses thoughts of harming themselves or others, they can be held in that facility for a certain amount of time. This is portrayed in the film somewhat accurately. The problem is that, in real life, the proceedings would be explained to the patient, and the staff would be prepared for their protests. The staff would give the patient the option of signing themselves in, and not resort to tricking them into doing so. (This becomes a plot point eventually, but it's still unrealistic.) Also, a facility like Highland Creek would most likely have semi-private rooms and not have co-ed wards with multiple patients.

And now, back to the movie. The conceit of Unsane is that it's portraying a waking nightmare. Suddenly being stripped, literally, of your belongings and being held against your will with little explanation would be terrible and the film attempts to bring this to life. If handled properly, this could come across as a truly unnerving experience. However, the movie makes some big mistakes, outside of those within my nitpicking per view. First of all, Sawyer comes across as extremely unlikable. In theory, we should side with her and feel sorry for her, but, as the story progresses, she does more and more things to alienate her from the audience and to worsen her predicament. Secondly, the story is incredibly redundant. Again, the goal is to create a situation where things are spiraling out of control, but that spiral is simply a circle, as we seemingly watch the same scene over and over again. And, lastly, the big twist in the second half of the film is completely unbelievable. We are never told how it happens and, even for a movie, it seems incredibly convenient.

Behind-the-scenes, the big deal about Unsane is that Director Steven Soderbergh decided to shoot the entire movie on an iPhone. However, if you weren't aware of this prior to watching the movie, you would have no idea, as it doesn't look any different than most current films. What you would notice is a director who has apparently built up enough clout that he can simply do a personal experiment and have it released into theaters. One could also assume that Soderbergh was focused more on the technical aspects of the film and not on the characters and story. Given all of the movies which we get which are set in abandoned and haunted mental health hospitals, it was nice to see one which takes place in a functioning clinic. I just wish that the movie had done more to make us care about what was going on. Unlike Sawyer, no one is going to force you to watch this.

Unsane should get props for taking its name from the American release of a Dario Argento movie on 4K UHD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been windowboxed at 1.66:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 70 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The picture is somewhat lacking in detail when compared to other 4K UHD releases of current films, which may be indicative of the iPhone. The colors look good, but the picture does lean towards dark in some spots. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Just as the video is somewhat disappointing, the fact that this does carry a 7.1 track is surprising. Still, the track provides some good surround sound effects, most notably when Sawyer is in the common room. We also get some impressive effects which highlight sounds coming from off-screen.

The lone extra on the Unsane 4K UHD is "Unsanity" (4 minutes), which takes us on-set to see Soderbergh shooting the movie on an iPhone. This is just a montage of clips from the film, combined with behind-the-scenes footage, although there are no interviews, narration, or linking themes.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long