“Unhinged”

3 STARS

The psychological thriller “Unhinged” is a conventional stalker movie that delivers what most audiences thirst for when it comes to getting a hefty serving of violent scares. It’s the story of deranged stranger (Russell Crowe) who, after an altercation behind the wheel with a hairdresser named Rachel (Caren Pistorius) while stopped at a red light, decides to initiate a dangerous game of cat and mouse that turns deadly. The maniac begins to attack Rachel’s friends and family in order to teach her a lesson, while the woman must do everything in her power to outrun the sicko and protect her son. It will either be a film that you find too disturbing and upsetting to watch right now in these scary and uncertain times, or it will be just the ticket for an evening of mindless escapism.

The film feels too real at first, especially with the country becoming such a bitter place, filled with people consumed by anger and hopelessness. The opening scene is frightening, and Crowe is absolutely terrifying as a calm, cold blooded killer. He’s sadistic and savage, an awesome bad guy. It helps that the basic structure of the story is plausible, which in turn makes everything super scary. This psycho frequently erupts in outbursts of brutal rage, and background news reports expose his back story and personal demons. But instead of taking the more sophisticated route and exploring the dangers of a society that continues to ignore mental health, the movie sensationalizes Crowe’s pill-addicted madman and creates a violent, crowd-pleasing thriller about road rage.

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. This is one of those movies where you’ll find yourself asking “what would I do in that situation?” Hopefully your answer will be a lot smarter than what the characters do here, which is one stupid thing after another. Rachel isn’t very street smart, and most of her actions are ridiculously unbelievable. There’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief that needs to happen when you sit down to watch a stalker flick, but our heroine does some of the dumbest things ever, and half of them make zero sense.

If you’re looking for some decent suspense, “Unhinged” will scratch that itch. It’ll also make you think twice before you honk your car horn in traffic ever again.

By: Louisa Moore

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