The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
Unhinged is a 90 minute pressure chamber that had me clenched and terrified. I hated every minute of it, and that’s why it’s so brilliant.
Derrick Borte directs his stars in a tense thrill ride, utilising all the best elements of horror slasher films and the thriller genre whilst leaning occasionally on car chase tropes. The brilliance of the film is in its simplicity, and whilst there are some over the top scenes outside of vehicles, the purest moments are the unnerving glances between the two drivers as Crowe’s unhinged antagonist refuses to break eye contact. The pace never drops, and even at times where he allows Rachel and us, the audience, a moment to catch our breath, we’re never truly sure we’re alone.
Rachel is a single mum, going through a nasty divorce, and all she wants to do is get her son to school and to her client on time. Today is not that day. After blowing her horn at The Man for refusing to turn at a green signal, the pair embark on a game of cat and mouse.
It’s my personal worst nightmare, and elements of the film are so real because they happen every day. It’s these elements – purposefully driving in front of you before slamming on the brakes, driving alongside you, shouting, slurring – that are the real terror of the film. There are points in the narrative where it starts to drift into the implausible, but in the style of every good slasher or chase film, you have to roll with it, as it’s those moments that have you screaming at the screen.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Caren Pistorius is a perfect scream queen in the making. Her innocent looks have us naturally endeared to her, and she’s able to portray a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown perfectly. We’ve all had those days where it is just one thing after another, and Pistorius keeps even the most absurd elements of the film grounded.
Russell Crowe was born to play this role. He’s terrifying as he’s so self-assured. There is nothing in the world that will talk him down or distract him from his mission, and it’s clear that for him, there’s nothing left but to burn the world down. The pair has great chemistry, which is especially strong considering they spent the majority of the film only communicating via phone.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
...a 90 minute pressure chamber that had me clenched and terrified.
Unhinged is violent. A lot more violent than I had anticipated. The café scene in particular is one people will be discussing, and the fact that you can see it coming in no way lessens the impact. The production design crew led by Freddy Waff and Paul Jackson do a great job with very little – just the juxtaposition of the two cars driving tells us all we need to know about our lead characters.
Unhinged (2020) | CINEMAS
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
I have to be honest and say I don’t remember much of the sound from the film, as I was just so stressed throughout the whole film. What I do remember is the menacing ring of the flip phone, the screech of tires and the sound of car engines. The ambience created in the film only builds with the tension, and whilst I can’t remember any music in particular, the sound mixing was excruciatingly good.
I haven’t been that stressed in a cinema since the final 30 minutes of Uncut Gems. Borte and his team know all their limitations with the film's premise and run with them, creating a truly terrifying character that feels all too real.