Sunday, June 03, 2018

'Unsane' Is a Solid Psychological Horror Film Shot Entirely on the iPhone 7 Plus

I decided to check Unsane out because of its gimmick: it was entirely shot on a smartphone.  It’s not the first time that smartphones are exclusively used to film a movie, but it’s the first time with the iPhone 7 Plus.  Regardless, it might as well be my first experience with such filmmaking approach.

And I’m impressed.  It’s obviously not as visually and aurally sharp as those films shot through the typical manner.  But the thought that a solid movie can be made even with just a smartphone is quite exciting.  Moreover, the technique meshes perfectly with the tone and premise of the movie.
Unsane is a psychological horror film about a young woman (Claire Foy) who has a stalker (Joshua Leonard) terrorizing her for two years.  The whole ordeal causes her to be mentally troubled, and during a counselling session, she unwittingly signed herself into a sinister mental institution.  Things take a turn for the worse when she realizes that one of the staff is seemingly her stalker.  Unfortunately, her sanity is only further questioned as a result – keeping her trapped in such ominous place with the source of her torment.

The most disturbing kind of psychological films are those that feature plausible scenarios.  And that’s how this movie is able to give its audience the heebie-jeebies.  Everything that occurs in this movie is within the boundaries of the real world.  For example, the terrifying situation that the protagonist found herself in – i.e. a clinically sane person getting involuntarily committed to a mental institution – is based on a real-life scam.  Put this on top of another realistic nightmare like having an obsessed stalker and the sense of dread only accumulates.
In the end, Unsane is not necessarily a masterpiece.  However, it is more than a “movie with a gimmick.”  There’s a valid point to make that there’s purposefulness behind the filmmaking decision of utilizing smartphones, as it gives the movie a more down-to-earth feeling.  And, again, when realism is increased, tension and uneasiness are enhanced.

All things considered, it’s worth a watch.

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