By Laurie Coker
Academy Award winner Russell Crowe graces the screen as an utterly detestable and completely deranged man filled with rage and hatred. Director Derrick Borte with a script written by Carl Ellsworth, delivers an intense, shocking thriller, that speaks to the festering issues that silently plague people until all rationale leaves them. Unhinged is stressful and madly mesmerizing watch andCrowe’s character captivates with his violent craziness.
Running late, Rachael (Caren Pistorius) on her way to drop off her son, Kyle (Gabriel Bateman) thinks she is having a bad day when her boss fires her by phone. In her haste, she honks at a man in a truck who sits through a green light. The Man (Crowe) quickly pulls up beside her and demands an apology. After a few expletives and unkind words from Rachael, he promises to show her what a bad day really looks like. Within minutes he has her phone and is terrorizing her and threatening her family. He is determined to make her suffer for all of his own inadequacies and slights.
Crowe, who seems to be sporting a fat suit, plays he character with dark intensity and Borte plays on the actor’s strengths – honing in on his eyes, filled with rage and pain. Crowe’s performance is petrifyingly realistic and he puts a face on the nightmare of road-rage. Crowe has portrayed sinister characters before but there is something about this man and his situation that sparks profound terror. It’s difficult to watch at times and the sense of fear and panic permeate from the screen. Pistorius plays the passionate parent perfectly, and Rachael’s reaction to the stranger is not unheard of – we have all done it – honked in frustration, shouted, or made a gesture at the stranger in the other vehicle.
Few of us can claim to have never honked or reacted to something in traffic. Fewer, too, know what is going on in the lives of all those around us. The film opens with a grisly murder and it’s no holds barred once Rachael falls in the man sights. Borte piles gruesome on gruesome and keeps tension high with intense pacing and shocking events. Ellsworth’s messages about privacy and personal security ring loudly and “you think you’re having a bad day” takes on a horrifying visage. Crowe puts a disturbing face on the anger and hatred that festers below the surface in society and what can happen if it is UNHINGED and unleashed. Unhinged earns a B in the grade book. It is difficult to watch but it will sure keep folks from reacting before pounding on the horn.