Psychological horror films are usually the most interesting. Buckets of blood and gore aren’t what usually makes the genre memorable, it’s the atmosphere it generates. Viewers remember the tension they felt when seeing these, along with the characters. Adding psychology into the mix has a way of keeping audiences on their toes wondering if what they’re seeing is genuine. Steven Soderbergh directs ‘Unsane’ with this in mind. With his usual filmic flair, Soderbergh delivers thought-provoking thrills amidst the film’s gloomy corridors.

Sawyer (Claire Foy) is a troubled young woman desperate to get away from a stalker, David (Joshua Leonard). Arranging to see a counsellor, she inadvertently signs a form which sends her to a psychiatric hospital. Meeting another patient, Nate (Jay Pharaoh), she learns the hospital runs an insurance scam by tricking people into voluntarily entering the institution. Sawyer has more important things in mind when she sees her stalker at the hospital. How this is possible as well as escaping her hellish predicament finds Sawyer caught in an emotional quagmire.

Steven Soderbergh sure knows how to switch professional gears. ‘Unsane’ sees him go down the B Movie horror route after a string of dramas. It’s a fun ride whilst still maintaining his attention to detail and making his characters fascinating to watch. Whilst ‘Unsane’ has a few leaps of logic making it rather implausible, the added layer of the insurance scam sub-plot keeps it grounded. In some ways the scam seems far more horrifying than Sawyer’s stalker, so outrageous are its affects and intents.

‘Unsane’ was shot using IPhone technology which adds a sense of genuine claustrophobia. The film’s hazy look effectively mirrors Sawyer’s dazed mind, making scenes more atmospheric. Foy is the best of the ensemble cast as her heroine battles against the twin evils of her stalker and the crooked establishment.

Although Soderbergh does drama and action well, it’s refreshing seeing him handle the horror genre. Apart from a few ridiculous plot developments, he generally succeeds in making it an arresting experience. Hopefully he’ll make another as ‘Unsane’ shows how the treatment can sometimes be worse than the disease.

Rating out of 10: 7


Annabelle Comes Home

Third time is usually the charm with sequels, although in ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ it isn’t. Another in the strangely popular ‘Annabelle’ series and part of the ‘Conjuring universe’ of films, this entry adds up to very little. Made on a miniscule budget while pursuing maximum box office dollars, its’ cheapness is evident. Akin to a tired mechanical carnival ride that’s seen better days, ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ creaks along with mundane predictability until its foregone conclusion.

When respected Demonologists Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren go away on a case, they hire babysitter Mary (Madison Iseman) to look after their young daughter Judy (McKenna Grace). Before Mary invites her friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) over, the Warrens warn her to never enter their artefacts room containing a plethora of supernatural items such as possessed doll Annabelle’. A potential night of peace is swiftly shattered when Annabelle escapes, unleashing the evil spirits the room holds. Mary, Judy and Daniela face a night of unholy terror as demons wreak havoc from the grave.

‘Annabelle Comes Home’ is pure lazy film-making. Having a bunch of ghosts that could potentially spin-off into their own films, this entry plays like an extended commercial. There’s little sense of ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ being its own entity, just a highlights package of what may come. What’s left is an endless series of jump-scares, loud music and bad acting. When the performances are scarier than the spectral spirits, you know something is amiss.

Directed by Gary Dauberman, ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ frequently ups the boredom factor. Barely any genuine tension is generated as one contrived situation is placed upon the other. Dauberman fails to reveal any directorial skills, clumsily handling the already threadbare and predictable material like an amateur. The CGI isn’t anything seen before with the ‘Conjuring Universe’ apparently filled with ghosts with similar looks and doing the same things.

When a film’s conclusion comes a merciful relief more than the trauma its characters face, you know it’s in trouble. ‘Annabelle Comes Home’ arthritically draws on the horror well with barely any enthusiasm. Imagining another entry in the ‘Annabelle’ franchise conures its own brand of horror with this third outing evident that Annabelle’s wicked dolly ways are finally on the wane.

Rating out of 10: 1