Stephen. Soderbergh. Shooting an entire movie on an iPhone. On a budget of only $1.2 million. Wow! The man knows how to frame a picture, but this will test the limits of his medium. He’s known for some fabulous looking films, like Traffic, Ocean’s 11, and Erin Brockovich takes his turn directing his first horror/thriller movie. Ambitious, to say the least.
Claire Foy plays Sawyer Valentini, a young woman on the run from a stalker… or is that all in her head? Sawyer finds herself committed to a mental health facility, after apparently checking herself voluntarily, then proclaiming that no, she’s being held against her will and that she’s not crazy. Ah, that old chestnut! The trailer offers up suggestions that her stalker, whether real or not, has arrived at her asylum, trapping Sawyer in a place she cannot escape with a scary man she cannot shed.
The architect in me realizes what a miserable place these old hospitals are. They seem like the absolute last place you want to go to make yourself well again. The limitations of the iPhone are evident, particularly in the lighting and focal depth. However, had I not been told that this is how the film was done, I would have remarked that it all appears a little flat, but not remarkably so. Foye’s performance appears to be on-point, and the stalker is creepy in that benignly “could be anyone” way. In the age of the Me Too movement, it will be interesting to see if this film addresses the desire for women who have been assaulted, harassed, and stalked to be heard and believed. It’s a half-shade away from that topic, but the desire to be heard out is a timely topic.
Unsane is Rated R, and will be arriving on March 23 in wide release.
So, do we want to see it?
I usually love Soderbergh. I really liked his Cinemax show The Knick, a grimy and beautiful look at surgery at the end of the 19th Century. I also love Ocean’s 11… so much fun! I remain doubtful about this one though. It has an overly-familiar plot, and though the thought of an iPhone movie intrigues me, I think it will rob Soderbergh of his expert lensmanship. I think I’m going to wait until this comes out on streaming services, and then only if the buzz is good enough.
Dude, everything about this movie screams student project. The music (quickening pulsing sounds), the acting (I’m delivering lines like a real actress!), the lighting (half the room is walmart lit and the other half is Transylvanian castle lit), and the plot (what if she’s a voluntary admission but she CAN’T just check herself back out?). Yuck. Not even to see Amy Irving.
I’m not so sure about this one. I’ll probably catch it streaming at some point, but really only for reasons that have nothing to do with what’s going on in the movie. I often like Mr. Soderbergh’s work. Not all the time and I wouldn’t say I go out of my way to watch his stuff, but if something sounds mildly passable and has his name attached, I’ll usually watch it. He does like to play around and try new things and that can be interesting to see. Which is pretty much why I’ll eventually watch Unsane. A feature film shot using three iPhones? And it’s actually being released in theaters? Okay, I’m in for the novelty if nothing else.
Soderbergh’s an innovator. That’s for sure. Just watch K-Street. Innovative as hell. Most importantly, Mr. S doesn’t always let you in the secret. Sometimes yes. Sometimes no. Most of the time he’ll leave you guessing what’s really transpired on screen — and that’s a good thing. While he’s never fully touched on horror, he’s definitely nibbled around the edges in the thriller neighborhood (The Underneath: 1995). That and Ms. Foy seems like a pretty solid actress. Ultimately, Mr. S know the secret to success. Bigger isn’t better. I’m definitely down for this one. I’d even go as far as excited.