UNHINGED (2020) Reviews and overview

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‘He can happen to anyone’
Unhinged is a 2020 American psychological thriller about a young mother who encounters the most terrifying driver’s road rage.

Directed by German-born Derrick Borte (London Town; H8RZDark Around the StarsThe Joneses) from a screenplay by Carl Ellsworth (Disturbia), the movie stars Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson and Austin P. McKenzie.

Having had a successful theatrical release (within the limitations of local lockdowns) via Solstice Studios, Unhinged arrives on a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital combo and standard DVD from Lionsgate as well as Digital and On-Demand on November 17th 2020. The combo includes the following special features:

Audio Commentary with Director Derrick Borte, Cinematographer Brendan Galvin, Production Designer Fredrick Waff, and Costume Designer Denise Wingate
“This Side of Rage” Featurette

“Even seemingly throwaway bits of dialogue are signposts to stuff that occurs toward the end. The movie loses a little of its nerve-jangling quality when you feel the script connecting its own dots. Without a doubt, Unhinged works as a piece of hard-edged exploitation. Given the quality of the performances from Pistorius and, especially, Crowe, I just wish that the screenplay had been up to their level.” The Aisle Seat

” …it feels like the points of a much smarter and incisive script are buried under a more conventional hide-and-seek chase thriller – one that Borte executes incredibly well. The path of carnage that Tom wreaks is brutal, and every car crash this lunatic causes, every time he forces someone to unwillingly commit some sin, is an act of pure, bone-crunching force.” The Austin Chronicle

Unhinged has thrills to spare, but seldomly rises above its fatigued conventions. Carl Ellsworth’s screenplay does his characters no favors, with a melodramatic first third doing a poor job of setting them up as anything more than mere cliches. Any attempts at elevating its trappings, including a vague commentary on society’s casual cruelty towards each other, fail to render a substantive throughline…” Battle Royale with Cheese

it puts its action front and center, making it easy to overlook the narrative’s shortfalls and get swept up in the mayhem. It’s a mean-spirited slasher on wheels, and Crowe makes for one intimidating villain. The film may not be as edgy as intended, but Borte makes one lean and efficient thriller that isn’t afraid to get sadistic.” Bloody Disgusting

Unhinged doesn’t know how to conclude, lifting a few moves from slasher cinema to complete the job, transforming the Man into a movie maniac instead of preserving his more compelling position as a powerless male in an unfair world, giving his rampage a deeper meaning and a more frightening level of engagement.” Blu-ray.com

“The film is very well shot and designed, the score isn’t too bad, there is a lot to enjoy here and enjoy the hell out of it I did. It might be a bit predictable in how it will all play out in the final act, but that said, I found Unhinged a lot of fun. It’s bloody, it’s brutal and enjoyable as hell.” The Film Grump

“This zippy car chase thriller shares some DNA with Joel Schumacher’s 1993 black comedy Falling Down, which saw Michael Douglas’s white-collar divorcee clashing with Los Angeles’s multicultural residents after abandoning his car and making his way across the city on foot. Both are darkly funny studies and send-ups of emasculated men…” The Guardian

“Cinematic thrill-seekers will get a temporary fix from the competent action sequences on display, but its rewatchability factor is lacking. That’s not to say that there aren’t promising elements of quality interwoven here and there. But, Unhinged seems incredibly quick to run these over in favour of a silly, unimaginative slasher film, with an impossibly invulnerable antagonist to boot.” The Hollywood News

“The intensity never subsides as the Man continually raises the stakes and finds increasingly horrible ways to torture Rachel and her family. Unhinged brings a fast-paced road thriller with a terrifying villain back to theatres, and just might make you avoid the freeway, or at least think twice before engaging with someone on the road.” Killer Horror Critic

“Like all good road stories, it has a lot of signposts – bits of random dialogue about confusing streets, video game strategies and the like all pay off later. Pistorius and Bateman are fine as the embattled innocents, but this is Crowe’s show – considering he was one of the weaker Mr Hydes, he, at last, gets a chance to play with his rage monster image…” The Kim Newman Web Site

“Borte’s filmmaking isn’t exactly subtle, but it’s economical and effective. Carl Ellsworth’s script never has to resort to exposition, gradually filling in the personas of Tom and Rachel without getting bogged down in any distracting backstories […] Unhinged moves at a relentless pace, and we share Rachel’s sweaty anguish as she finds herself trying to juggle ways to keep her various family members safe from Tom’s ire.” The Movie Waffler

“If you’re a fan of movies like this, you’ll probably enjoy Unhinged. It’s not unwatchable, and it delivers a satisfying mix of dread, suspense, and bloody, gratuitous violence. Towards the end it becomes a long car chase with loads of crashes, which should appeal to fans even more. I’m not a literal moviegoer, but even I couldn’t ignore the plot holes.” Screen Zealots

“Admittedly, Unhinged is a film that would be a pretty generic thriller if it wasn’t for the very solid casting. Indeed, one of the key elements of the film is a rare villainous performance by Russell Crowe as “The Man,” who is lashing out against the world for the wrongs done against him…” Sean Kelly on Movies

” …while Unhinged knows The Man’s sociopathy, a notion that seemed to get away from Falling Down, it’s nevertheless intoxicated with his brutal wrath, and with Crowe’s obsessive devotion to it. The Man’s self-pity has political implications in a time that has brought us such absurdities as All Lives Matter, but Borte and Ellsworth only cynically and shallowly trade on such implications.” Slant magazine

“The vast majority of the action, apart from a small section that takes place in a diner, and the final showdown in the house at the end, takes place in the interior of the cars.  No fancy scene-setting, no big CGI effects.  Crowe and Pistorius have to bring their A-Game with the barest minimum of staging, and they both do a truly fantastic job.” Trailer Trashed

“Director Derrick Borte (The Joneses) keeps the pace moving nicely with tension and bursts of brutality, which is perfectly fine for a disposable thriller. What’s even better, he knows what the real point of all this is. Russell on a rampage. That’s it.” UK Film Review

” …Unhinged blends the line between topical content and exploitation entertainment.  The film is meant to be enjoyed as a series of cheap thrills, but Unhinged is also supposed to provoke us, shock us, and startle us; drawing reactionary parallels to this year’s challenging satire The Hunt.” Wylie Writes

Choice dialogue:
The Man: “I don’t think you know what a bad day is! But you’ll find out.”

Cast and characters:
Russell Crowe … The Man/Tom Cooper
Caren Pistorius … Rachel
Jimmi Simpson … Andy
Gabriel Bateman … Kyle
Anne Leighton … Deborah Haskell
Lucy Faust … Rosie
Austin P. McKenzie … Fred
Michael Papajohn … Cop
Sylvia Grace Crim … Teacher
Stephen Louis Grush … Leo
Brett Smrz … Homeless Man
Juliene Joyner … Mary
Devyn A. Tyler … Mrs Ayers
Gregory Hobson … Patron
Michael Randall … Diner Patron

Technical details:
1 hour 21 minutes


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