Some people may find the idea of a movie being shot on an iPhone to be a little bit stupid. However, Unsane, the new release from Steven Soderbergh, was entirely filmed on an iPhone camera, despite having an all-star cast and a pretty well-established director at the helm.
Unsane follows Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy), a victim of stalking who is involuntarily admitted to a mental institution. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Sawyer may not be as sane as she says she is, taking the viewer on a rollercoaster of tension and unrest.
This movie is a very good stab at the genre of psychological thriller, putting you through all of the genuine fear and emotion that Valentini feels as she navigates this insane and unsafe place. There is not a moment whilst watching this film that you’re not holding your breath, waiting for something to happen. When it does, the combination of the cathartic release and a genuine fear for the protagonist sends your heart racing and your head spinning.
Claire Foy shines as the supposedly insane Sawyer. You begin to empathise with her and connect with her the further the film goes on, feeling every ounce of her fear and anger. She is volatile, feisty and vulnerable, and shows these traits in every single scene she has. Genuinely, this movie would be nowhere near as good if Claire Foy was not in it.
Joshua Leonard plays the creepy David Strine, the stalker of Sawyer Valentini. He is suffocatingly good at playing the villain, even when the villain doesn’t seem much like a villain at all. His presence lingers and chills you to the core. When he is on screen, you unintentionally hold your breath, just in anticipation of what he will do next.
The cinematography in this movie is excellent. Long shots from behind bushes and buildings bring the threat that this woman feels to life, long before it is revealed that she actually has a stalker. The music builds tension, but not overtly, fading into a kind of background noise so as not to overshadow the events on screen.
Obviously, there are things that are wrong with this film. The whole basis of the plot seems overly far-fetched, playing on the trope of American healthcare as an insurance scam. The film itself moves very slowly, only picking up the pace around 30 minutes from the end. This results in a slightly dull start, which takes a while to regain the interest of the viewer. The representations of mental health only stigmatise mental health in real life, which, with a lot more research, could have been avoided.
Although there are genuine flaws with this movie, it is obvious that a lot of thought went into it. It doesn’t seem rushed or even like it was filmed on an iPhone camera. It feels like a quality movie and a quality thriller. Unsane is worth watching purely for the talent that has brought it to life and continues to make the audience think about the movie for days after watching it. Considering it was shot entirely on an iPhone in 10 days, it’s a movie that deserves to be watched.