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Film / Unsane

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I'm not fucking crazy!

"He's here...Or maybe it's all in my head."

Unsane is a 2018 Psychological Thriller film from director Steven Soderbergh. It stars Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, and Amy Irving. It is noted for being completely shot on an iPhone 7 Plus.

Sawyer Valentini (Foy) goes to visit a counselor over her fears regarding a man named David Strine (Leonard) who stalked her for two years. She then finds herself involuntarily committed to a mental institution, Highland Creek, where David works as an orderly under another identity. Although Sawyer tries to tell others who he really is, nobody will listen to her.

This film contains the following tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: David to Sawyer.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Sawyer and Angela both have this happen to them via David, although Angela doesn't come out alive.
  • Big Bad: David Strine is the stalker who infiltrates the mental institution where Sawyer Valentini was committed so he can find her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sawyer escapes Highland Creek and kills David, and the facility's administrator is arrested for committing patients against their will, but Nate and Sawyer's mother are both dead, and the experience has left her traumatized to the point where she nearly kills a man at a restaurant because she believes he is David.
  • The Cameo: Matt Damon appears as an officer who tells Sawyer what to do to keep David away from her.
  • Cassandra Truth: Sawyer is telling the truth about everything — David is her stalker, she's sane, and she's being abused — but of course, no one believes her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Violet's shiv.
  • The Chew Toy: Violet gets smacked, has hot coffee thrown in her face, is nearly raped, and finally has her neck snapped.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: David tortures Nate with an ECT device.
  • Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: Sawyer's stalker is real and has infiltrated the asylum, which for its own financial gain commits healthy people under the pretext of them being violent or suicidal.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Highland Creek, which is a scam meant to trap people against their will for as long as possible in order to collect on their insurance.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sawyer, especially after asking for a phone call repeatedly.
    Nurse: Would you like to take your call now?
    Sawyer: Yes. Wow, it's like you read my mind.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: David killed the real George Shaw and stole his identity in order to get close to Sawyer.
  • Eye Scream: Sawyer jabs David in the eye with her mother's cross necklace before slashing his throat.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy Is Torture: How Nate dies
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: Sawyer nearly kills a random stranger, mistaking him for David; the credits roll over a freeze-frame of her running away, looking over her shoulder in fear.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Exploited by Sawyer, who kisses Violet to distract David long enough that she can grab Violet's shiv.
  • Groin Attack: Sawyer does this to another patient who gropes her.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Present throughout the outdoor night scenes.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Nate.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Everything David does is out of his so-called love for Sawyer, including killing Nate when he gets too close to Sawyer and killing her mother for wanting to take Sawyer away from the hospital and therefore away from him.
  • Made of Iron: David. When Sawyer stabs him in the neck, he recovers enough to get the drop on her.
  • Mama Bear: Angela, who confronts the administrator and head doctor at the facility, vowing to do everything in her power to get Sawyer out.
  • Neck Snap: Happens to Violet, courtesy of David.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Claire Foy's English accent slips through numerous times during the film, especially when incensed, making e.g. "the counselor said the forms were routine" sound more like Elizabeth.
  • Police Are Useless: The police don't do much investigating at first, until the cracks in David and Highland Creek's plans begin to show.
  • Slashed Throat: How Sawyer finishes David off.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Played with but averted, as it becomes clear that Sawyer was telling the truth the whole time. Brought back again in the final scene, when Sawyer thinks she sees David and nearly kills a random person.
  • Wrongfully Committed: One of the most prominent examples of this trope. The Highland Creek hospital has been committing sane people just to keep collecting money from the health insurance companies