Seeing the title of this film would make someone automatically uncomfortable. Unsane? Not insane? Why? Perhaps it's a tiny hint of the spiraling terror of uncertainty that one is about to swallow when experiencing this movie. And it's not just about the gimmick that it's been shot entirely using an iPhone.
Sawyer was previously troubled by a stalker and was mislead into checking herself into an institute. She is trapped in more ways than one, when the system won't let her go and no one will believe that her life is in danger.
Unsane is a paranoia filled trip. With the darkened corridors and cloudy lighting, the setting is kept bleak as the situation is gravely uncertain. The initial premise of 'is she or isn't she crazy' is sadly settled quickly but it doesn't take away from the frightening aspect of bureaucracy. The precarious trust in the medical system in itself is a terrifying theme. The whole film could have been set on that idea. But it's not enough to be held against your will in the presense of psychos and unstable patients. They had to pile on the suspense.
Thank goodness that Sawyer, played by Claire Foy, isn't a typical damsel in distress. She is assertive and strong-willed. She wasn't going to roll over and cower in the face of adversity. There is a touch of acidity with her, making her less likeable but there is no denying that the audience is on her side and want her to succeed.
And this is what grabs the viewer. There is a limited time in which she has to escape her predicament and all the odds are practically against her. The film succeeds in mounting the intensity and there are still a few surprises in turn. Sawyer's helplessness and subsequent switch is frightening to behold. Her fears, unfounded and not, crawl under one's skin and one can't even scratch them, being restrained by both the system and tight bed straps. Believe in the loss of belief crippling you. Oh and if you think you see Matt Damon in a cameo, don't worry. He's the real deal.
Unsane is a tight little flick that really works in drawing the viewer in the enclosed space and suspensefully unsettling them. Being shot with an iPhone might be a novel gimmick but the film stands on its own as a satisfying, edge-of-your-seat thriller.