An unlikely nightmare comes to life in ‘Unhinged’

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Illustration by Melissa Joseph

Russell Crowe stars in the new film “Unhinged” now showing at select theaters.

“Unhinged” takes a common experience and twists it into something brutally terrifying. I don’t regret watching it, but I do think it could have been better if the villain of the film was more fleshed out and not just a bitter divorced man who drives a gray pickup truck.

As the result of a road rage incident, a man (Russell Crowe) begins stalking a woman named Rachel (Caren Pistorius) and her middle-school-aged son Kyle (Gabriel Bateman). The man then begins stalking and killing Rachel’s friends and family.

He starts with Rachel’s best friend, Andy (Jimmi Simpson), who was also acting as Rachel’s divorce attorney. Crowe’s character confronts Andy and says, “You’re one of those lawyers who screws over guys like me in divorce court.” He then breaks an empty coffee mug over Andy’s face, uses the tie Andy is wearing to get him in a chokehold, and drives a knife into the back of Andy’s neck before calmly leaving the restaurant.

This is the first and only motive ever given for the man’s instability. He got screwed over in his divorce and now a woman in a station wagon honking at him too aggressively while she’s trying to get her son to school on time is enough to get him into a murderous rage. There is a movie poster for “Unhinged” that says, “He can happen to anyone,” but how common is it for someone to go through a bad divorce and that makes them a murderer?

The writers should have provided more of a backstory for Crowe’s character to make the premise more believable.There is a mention of a nasty divorce and an indication of an addiction to some kind of medication through a couple of scenes where he is chewing pills like hard candy instead of taking them with water.

But it still seems that there should have been more about him, even if it was in the form of flashbacks or details released about him on the news.

The cat-and-mouse game continues between Rachel and the man, each murder more brutal and chilling than the last.

The violence was hard to watch, but in a way it had to happen. A movie like this would get boring if it was all car chases and nothing else.

These aspects of a hunt and gruesome violence worked well and kept the movie from getting too predictable or repetitive. Viewers can predict that he will continue killing people to get revenge on Rachel, but it’s anyone’s guess as to who he will target next or how he will kill them. 

There are a couple of twists throughout the movie, but it’s mostly all blood and gore and tension. There was so much tension, in fact, that my shoulders and neck were actually sore for the rest of the night from all the tension of that hour and a half. Steer clear if you don’t like blood, gore, mind games and tension.

Rating: 4/10

Kelsey Ogle can be reached at [email protected]