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MOVIES: Unhinged - Review

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Unhinged is a B-movie that feels like a present-day Mad Max: Fury Road with all the thrills sucked out for a 90 minute long road safety advert. It attempts to make this statement on society about how we’re all becoming angrier and road rages are happening more and more often, with one bad day being enough to turn people into unhinged psychopaths, but it all feels really muddled in its messages as Derrick Borte’s film can’t escape that feeling of repetitiveness by the end as it just leads you to a sense of familiarity.

Caren Pistorius’ Rachel’s bad day is about to get worse. Trying to avoid traffic, she takes the highway and runs into a roadblock, a roadblock that causes her to lose her highest paying client and make sure that her son is late for school. Once she gets moving again, in anger – she beeps her horn angrily at a large, obtrusive car that refuses to move for her at a green light. A few stops later; the car pulls up alongside her again – and Russell Crowe’s character, simply listed in the credits as “The Man”, winds the window down and asks her to apologise for not giving her a courtesy tap. We already know how scary The Man is – the cold open saw us watch him slaughter a couple in their own home and burn their house down. He’s the wrong kind of person to get on the wrong side of. So when Rachel does – she finds herself in big trouble.

The rest of the movie sees Rachel’s life unravelling around her as the movie progresses. Unhinged makes a point about why you should always take good care of your phone and never leave it unattended, as it tries to show how dependent people’s lives are on their phone in this day and age but in order for the plot to be effective it undercuts any believability by requiring characters to make stupid decisions in order for it truly get going. It’s the kind of movie that requires on the slightest of coincidences for any kind of plot to happen, and is so perfectly telegraphed from the beginning that you can already tell that offhand moments mentioned or shown in the first act are going to crop back up with a payoff in the final act. It’s a movie that rapidly loses its shock factor as it progresses, becoming more and more typical a slasher horror as it goes forward, but instead of Ghostface or Freddy, the antagonist is The Man. There’s plenty of jump scares and brutal deaths at times – this feels like a mean film, but for all its attempts at the dramatic it can never quite reach it.

Being the first major movie to be released in cinemas in the middle of a pandemic you’d expect to come out with a good reason for audiences willing to go to the cinemas to watch Unhinged, but the fact of the matter is that there isn’t one. Russell Crowe’s performance is good – it has to be in order to make a role like this work – but he plays such a lazy stereotype that he isn’t really given any kind of depth, and is just a monotonous killing machine. This movie makes several questionable choices over its narrative that paint him as an invincible murderer without remorse, however its only way of doing so is to make everyone else around him make stupid decisions, and whilst it does everything it can to make the finale feel earned, for me, at least, it just felt like a standard horror movie resolution that you’ve seen done time and time before.

One of the major weaknesses of the storyline turned out to be its modern day setting, it's a film that's very much let down by it as anything unrealistic stands out perhaps even moreso than it would have maybe done otherwise, its errors all the more glaring. There are plenty of questions left unanswered that stretch the viewer’s credibility throughout the movie that render Unhinged as a film that lacks clear, distinctive staying power that was needed to make a film like this work, and the end result, which features more of a reliance on Fortnite than I was expecting in order for its plot to work, kind of let me down.

You can watch the trailer for Unhinged here.

Unhinged is currently airing in cinemas now.

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