(US - 2018)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer. Cast: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Amy Irving, Aimee Mullins, Matt Damon, Polly McKie, Sarah Stiles, Michael Mihm, Robert Kelly, Gibson Frazier, Raul Castillo, Will Brill, Stephen Maier, Myra Lucretia Taylor. (R, 98 mins)
Steven Soderbergh emerged from his four-year, big-screen "retirement" (during which he directed an HBO movie and two seasons of the Cinemax series THE KNICK, and produced several projects for others) with last year's charming and funny LOGAN LUCKY. By the time that film was in theaters, Soderbergh had already secretly made UNSANE, described as a low-budget horror film shot entirely with an iPhone 7 Plus, with the exception of a drone camera for some exteriors. Fans of Italian horror with recognize UNSANE as the title of the severely-cut US version of Dario Argento's 1982 classic TENEBRAE, but the comparisons end there. UNSANE was written not by Soderbergh but by the team of Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, whose writing credits include such classics as Lindsay Lohan's JUST MY LUCK, Jackie Chan's THE SPY NEXT DOOR, and their crowning achievement, LARRY THE CABLE GUY: HEALTH INSPECTOR. Nevertheless, through the iPhone 7 Plus and other recurring themes, Soderbergh, once again handling cinematography duties as "Peter Andrews" and editing as "Mary Ann Bernard," makes UNSANE his own, and it's a mess. Even the iPhone gimmick isn't original: several years before he directed THE FLORIDA PROJECT, Sean Baker made his indie breakthrough with TANGERINE, shot entirely with an iPhone 5S. Though he's had major box-office hits with films like TRAFFIC, ERIN BROCKOVICH, and the OCEAN'S ELEVEN trilogy, Soderbergh has found some success and critical accolades with more offbeat and, to varying degrees, experimental projects (THE LIMEY, BUBBLE, THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, the ambitious four-hour epic CHE), and has even gone "slumming" in genre fare before with 2012's enjoyable Gina Carano actioner HAYWIRE. UNSANE is one of his worst films, but at least it's better than 2002's FULL FRONTAL, his unwatchable, star-studded, self-indulgent homage to French New Wave shot with the Canon XL-1s. There's several scenes in UNSANE, especially in the early going, where Soderbergh's use of the iPhone 7 indeed adds to the sense of unease he's trying to establish, but the longer the film goes on, the dumber and more ridiculous it gets. By the time the heroine wakes up in a trunk and Soderbergh's breaking out the night vision, it's hard to shake the feeling that he's either bored out of his mind or hasn't seen enough low-budget indie horror films over the last two decades to recognize the cliches.
|Soderbergh filming UNSANE|