‘All I want is for you to say sorry…’

A breakneck, violent, kinetic throwback of a movie, Unhinged harks back to that time in the 90s when psycho-thrillers were all the rage.

That is not a slight – far from it – as this Russell Crowe opus ticks all the right boxes for the most part, throwing us headlong into the action, accelerating away and then barely pausing for breath.

The set-up is simple to say the least – young mother Rachel (Caren Pistorious), late for both dropping her son at school and a work appointment, gets caught behind a vehicle at a traffic stop. When said vehicle fails to move at the green light, Rachel angrily hammers her horn a few times, overtakes in frustration and speeds away.

Wouldn’t you know though, a further traffic stop mere yards down the road forces her to stop again, allowing the original vehicle to pull alongside. The driver of this vehicle? Well, he’s simply known as ‘the man’ (he does give his name as Tom Cooper at one point but who knows) – a hefty, sweating, pill-popping Crowe. He gives Rachel a chance to apologise, she refuses – and away we go…

Riffing on everything from Joyride to Changing Lanes to Duel, the rest of the film sees ‘the man’ doing everything he can to make Rachel’s life a misery – even if that means killing a few folk along the way.

Now, there is no doubt we are straying into Channel 5 ‘afternoon movie’ territory here, but Unhinged really, really works for a few reasons.

First it’s Crowe, who seems to have packed on the pounds for this role, resembling a gruff Jon Goodman at times. Crowe takes the role and runs with it, dialling up the crazy and unleashing a creation that is truly menacing.

There are plenty of opportunities for ‘the man’ to roll out the violence (including a pre-credit sequence) and Crowe does so with gusto. Also, ‘the man’ nails his colours to the mast early on by announcing ‘I don’t want to get away with it – suicide by cop is fine by me’. Straight away that tells us bets are off – and everyone is in the firing line.

The other big plus is the character of Rachel, mainly in the fact that she does things the way a normal person would. She constantly calls 911, flags down cops, attempts to drive to a police station at one point, phones friends to warn them and so on. Even better – the police believe her, which is amazing for films in this genre (and a welcome change).

Director Derrick Borte handles the carnage very well, from brutal beatdowns to stabbing with cutlery and the like, topped off with some vehicular mash-ups that crunch.

The film is not perfect – I knocked a full point off my final score for the fact a pithy one-liner at the film’s climax jars with what has gone before, while the ‘they’re not dead after all’ wheeling out of one supposed victim at the death really grates.

But these are minor quibbles and, even taking them into consideration, Unhinged remains a rollicking ride.

Movie Review: Unhinged
3.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle