Review: Unhinged

Unhinged (2020)

Director: Derrick Borte

Writer: Carl Ellsworth

Starring: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, and Austin P. McKenzie

Plot: A woman directs her road rage at the wrong person and he vows to get revenge by making her have the worst day ever by killing many of her loved ones.

Review: You ever watch a movie and kinda just feel dirty after watching it? That’s how I feel about Unhinged. I’m all for pulpy films. I love a good horror flick. And, most of the time, I find myself reveling in the torment that’s being displayed on the big screen. This one though felt… different. I left the theater in a really, really bummed out mood. Then, I saw another movie that improved it, until I came home and looked up the google images for this one. That put me right back down in the dumps.

Honestly, I don’t know what it is that made Unhinged not work for me. I was having a good time up until the first really serious death occurred. Then, I just started feeling uncomfortable. As we got further into the movie, that gut bad feeling just got worse too. Honestly, I was a bit weirded out. I’m a horror guy. I can stomach a lot. So, it wasn’t the violence. I’m ok with that. And, the killer’s motives aren’t any darker or more sinister than other villains I find myself rooting for. In fact, a lot of his lines could’ve been transferred over to Joker or Tyler Durden and they wouldn’t seem out of place. However, this character doesn’t have the same charisma. There’s nothing fun about him. There’s no swag. No exciting backstory. Crowe doesn’t do a thing to make this guy likable. He just seems like an asshole who is pushing things too far. You never once go “Oh, I can kind of see where he’s coming from.” He’s a psychopath who is completely in the wrong. And, I just ended up feeling really, really bad for our protagonists. Was this purposeful? Maybe. But, I, for one, like to have a little bit of fun in my horror flicks. That’s what I’m there for. I want things to be big and over the top. I’m not looking to be bummed out by some asshole actually ruining a woman’s life.

As much as I didn’t enjoy it, I can’t completely throw Unhinged under the bus either. Or, should I say under Russell Crowe’s truck? (Sorry.) The script is actually really, really well put together. There are small lines of dialogue in the first act that just seem like they’re filler that end up paying off in big ways in the third. I was constantly surprised with how well this dumb movie foreshadowed.

It also does a really good job at creating tension and legitimate terror for our main character. Like I said, I’m not used to feeling this bad for the leads in horror flicks. Most of the time they’re just there to move the plot along or grow into the hero. I was legitimately scared for this woman and her child though. I think a lot of that is from the writing, but I’d also give massive credit to the actors. They really sold the tension.

Overall, I can’t recommend Unhinged. I wish I could. The script is actually pretty decent and some of the scares are pretty good. Crowe just doesn’t have the charisma to pull off this part. What should’ve been a calculating, yet chaotic sadist ended up being just this unrelenting brutish dick. I think the movie would’ve been improved ten times over with someone like John Malkovich or Steve Buscemi or even Sam Rockwell in the lead. As it stands now, it’s just a cynical, brutal, not very fun horror flick. That’s not to say it’s bad. It’s just definitely not what I was looking for with a plot like this.

TL;DR: Unhinged should’ve been fun, but the villain wasn’t nearly charismatic enough for that.

Score: 5/10 (Meh)

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