Writing a review for the new thriller Unhinged challenges my skills as a critic. On one hand I can’t deny the film does its job as a thriller in building tension and suspense. On the other hand, I hated the experience of watching it and found the film to be an extremely cynical and mean-spirited exercise. I am also left baffled at why on earth the studio fought to have this of all movies as the first large film to be released after quarantine. Is it supposed to be a cautionary tale? Good grief!
Unhinged stars Caren Pistorius as a woman named Rachel (maybe too close to home with that name!) who gets involved in a road rage incident with a man in a truck played by Russell Crowe. He then decides to make this the worst day of her life and stalks and attacks her. This even includes preying on her family and friends.
The problem with Unhinged is the film isn’t content to just be a thriller with an innocent being preyed upon by a deranged man. From the opening credits it wants to say something about technology and modern empty consumerism. It honestly tries to justify the actions of Crowe’s character as if he has simply taken a truthful response one step too far. No spoilers but in the end Rachel even learns the lesson he was trying to teach her from the beginning- as if that in any way justifies all that he has done.
The whole process is incredibly cynical and assumes the worst of human nature. That we all can only be pushed so far until we turn into The Man (Crowe’s character has no name). Some may find this thrilling. Some may even believe it to be true. I do not and did not.
The other problem with Unhinged is they don’t go all the way with the gritty realism/social commentary. There are scenes where people are not behaving in logical ways or making much sense. Particularly a scene in a diner felt ridiculous and extremely unlikely. I guess this is a movie where you are supposed to ‘turn off your brain’ ? The problem is it tries to be a deep metaphor so you can’t just have ‘dumb fun’ with it!
There are also some moments of sloppy filmmaking. In particular there’s a scene with terrible ADR that for the budget and time they had to work on it is unforgivable. You think with all the delays they could have at least gotten that right?
Like I said, some people will enjoy Unhinged because it does build up tension well but it’s not satisfied to be just a simple thriller (think last year’s Crawl as a good movie that was happy to be a silly fun thriller). Unhinged has to try and be more and teach both the character and all of us watching something. It is in that cynical and frankly repulsive message that the film loses me. Sure we live in a society that can be lost in technology and forget the humanity of others, but we also have goodness and compassion demonstrated every day in a thousand different ways (sometimes even on that very technology). No thank you Unhinged and your supposed cautionary tale. No thank you at all!
3 out of 10