Underdeveloped, Unfinished, “Unsane”

“Unsane” is 2018’s “Shutter Island,” if “Shutter Island” had little to no character development and a plot with potential but a script and ending that didn’t follow through.

The film is an American psychological horror-thriller following Sawyer Valentini, a woman confined to a mental institution after she is pursued by a stalker.

The entire film was shot on the iPhone 7 Plus, which was the first recognized piece of the film and arguably its most artistic and clever attribute. While the quality is good with an iPhone, a classic, high-end film camera would take much better and much more recognizable shots.

Choosing to film the entire movie with an iPhone was smart and artistic. The main plot point of the film is Sawyer’s relationship with her stalker, and the film being shot with a cell phone gives the illusion that her stalker is recording the entire ordeal.

The style feels very intimate, almost too intimate. It’s clear enough to know exactly what’s going on, but with that home video feel to it.

The same can be said for the beginning and ending credit style. They’re simple and easily made by anyone who owns a video editing program, aiding to the idea of a home video.

This, unfortunately, was the most positively notable point of the film.

The plot is not a new one. “Shutter Island” is one of the most notable with the mental asylum theme, as well as “A Cure For Wellness.” That being said, it’s a theme that is easily enjoyable. The addition of the stalking element is taking a fairly classic premise and adding a new spin.

However, it seems the writers thought of this groundbreaking idea, and then simply laid it out and stepped away, waiting for it to develop itself. There weren’t twists and turns, which is disappointing considering how interesting the original concept is.

The film would have been much better if viewers were left guessing whether Sawyer was insane or not until the final moments, or maybe never truly know. Instead, each new path of the plot is laid out and easily expected.

It was a fantastic idea, it was just never pushed far enough.

It seemed as though this film could have done with even another hour to allow for more character development. Viewers were only shown the surface of each character, even Sawyer’s. She had been a victim of stalking for two years. It would have certainly been beneficial to show more of that time in her life rather than just the present.

Truly understanding her and her struggle in this moment required much more depth to her character.

Including the image of her stalker was interesting, as well, in the best way possible. Unfortunately, there is no mystery regarding his actual existence in the mental institution. It was another great idea without execution.

Overall, “Unsane” simply needed more mystery to be successful. While in many instances, viewers would be angry leaving a film and not knowing really how it ended, for a psychological film such as this, a mysterious ending is exactly what it needed to be successful.

Rating: 2/5 stars