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Movie review: Unsane

What is it about aviator frames that’s so evil? Is it because they seem to be the go-to style of serial killers? (Thanks, Jeffrey Dahmer.)In “Unsane,” a character wears aviator frames, but is he the dangerous stalker Sawyer Valentini claims has been following her for the past two years? I don’t know either.

It’s possible she is suffering from the stress of being stalked or just plain delusions. She doesn’t look well. She’s pale, haggard and thin. She exudes a fragile brittleness and startles easily. It’s her haunted eyes that give her away. As she tells a therapist, she “never feels safe, not for a minute.” Maybe she’s right to feel that way, because soon after her therapy appointment, she finds herself unwillingly committed to the facility for 24 hours, which is only the beginning of her nightmare. To make it even worse, director Steven Soderbergh uses techniques any fan of ghost-hunting TV shows will recognize: and all on an iPhone 7 Plus! (Sarcasm) He also stays close to the actors, heightening the tension even more.

This is one surprising little movie, but not in a jump scare way. Sawyer’s mental state is unnerving to watch as each path of escape closes (mostly because she’s her own worst enemy). Much of what she experiences she brings on herself. She’s not a terribly sympathetic character, but you do root for. The tightly wound Sawyer is nobody’s victim, even though she’s been victimized. Her intensity makes her annoyingly hard to watch.

You won’t walk out of “Unsane” scared, but you just might be inspired to pull out your own smartphone and make a movie.

 

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