Unsane: The Committed Cut

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Faneditor Name:
Original Movie Title:
Genre:
Fanedit Type:
Original Release Date:
2018
Original Running Time:
98
Fanedit Release Date:
Fanedit Running Time:
83
Time Cut:
15
Subtitles Available?
Available in HD?
Netflix
Brief Synopsis:
This is a refined fanfix of Steven Soderbergh's "Unsane" that is more fully committed to the question at the centre of the film - is Sawyer delusional, or is her stalker working at the healthcare facility where she is being held for observation? This is achieved primarily by sticking to Sawyer's point of view wherever possible.
Intention:
The theatrical edit of Unsane has a B-movie plot of the sort that Hitchcock could do wonderfully, but the execution is inconsistent, and fully unravels in the third act. Foy's performance is great and the core concept is strong, but throughout the film there are several indications of what's really going on that undermine the film's ambiguity too early. My goal with this edit is to amplify the ambiguity of the question of whether George Shaw is actually David Strine or not.
Additional Notes:
As noted above, the theatrical edit of Unsane has a solid B-movie core and premise, and the central performances are strong. However, it's let down by a script that does not trust its audience. The problems are twofold. Firstly, at several points throughout the film there are very obvious and unsubtle indications dropped about what is actually going on. While these are likely intended to ensure that the viewer is sympathetic to Sawyer (who has been introduced as a fairly abrasive and spiky character), the result is that they consistently mean the audience has information Sawyer does not have, but the story is not structured in such a way as to use this imbalance effectively. Secondly, the antagonist is clearly established as being a stalker - but during the course of the film he is depicted as almost casually escalating from stalking to multiple murders and sadistic assaults, with no explanation beyond "Well, he's a wrong 'un". It smacks of lazy thriller tropes, particularly because there's no finesse to any of the execution. What's worse is that when these crimes start taking place on the grounds of Highland Creek, it places an additional burden of credulity on the central fraudulent-committment-for-profit premise - because while it is plausible that hiring unmotivated and under-qualified staff might create an environment where there is little concern for patient wellbeing, it is not a given that said environment would extend to not having any concerns over an unexplained patient death on the grounds, or the sudden disappearance of another patient who had been a source of concern (and therefore potential profit). Both of these issues can be mitigated quite successfully by adopting a "less is more" narrative approach, primarily by reducing as much as possible the number of scenes that do not involve Sawyer once she has been committed. It was not possible to remove all such scenes without introducing potential plot holes, but I have reduced the non-Sawyer scenes to the minimum required for a coherent plot throughline. Other elements such as shots showing George/David watching Sawyer were removed wherever possible, as we do not see any other staff doing this nor any indication that it is normal behaviour. In addition to this excision of material, the Matt Damon cameo scene has been moved to the start of the film and serves as a cold open - this establishes unambiguously that Sawyer has been a victim of stalking, such that the context around her PTSD episode when she takes Mark home from the bar is changed from "What was that about?" to "So that's how badly she is still affected by this". This helps underscore the severity of her condition when she goes to Highland Creek. Some minor brightness & contrast changes have also been made for the pre-committment scenes, in order to emphasise the difference in Sawyer's surroundings before and after she is committed,
Release Information:
Digital
Editing Details:
As much as possible, I have tried to mimic the style of editing used within the film as I feel this is the best way to make my changes invisible to the viewer. This means generally hard cuts between scenes rather than crossfades or montages, and very few establishing shots. J- and L- cuts are used on occasion, which combined with a passably clean centre channel did make creating new transitions a little easier.

At certain points I have had to create "new" establishing shots by re-using existing footage and applying changes to disguise the reuse (flopping, reversed footage, brightness/contrast changes etc). These were integrated into the surrounding footage by matching the audio transitions and video cuts as closely to other similar cuts in the film as practical.
Cuts and Additions:
Removed opening scene with David's monologue in the forest.
Moved Matt Damon safety consultation to serve as a cold-open.
Applied changes to colour balance, brightness & contrast to all scenes up until Sawyer is inside the Highland Creek building - the intention is to create a contrast between Sawyer's perceptions when outside Highland Creek and once she is inside.
Removed lengthy shot cutting back to George/David after he has shown her the envelope with her mother's address.
Cut George/David visiting Sawyer's mother at her motel.
Cut George/David discussing Sawyer's medication mixup with Nurse Boles.
Removed on-the-nose shots of George/David monitoring Sawyer and Nate in the dorm.
Removed shot of George/David watching Sawyer & Nate on the terrace, inserted external shot of Highland Creek to imply passage of time between scenes.
Removed George/David capturing Nate & torture montage, reworked audio so that scene goes from Sawyer fighting with Violet to waking up in the isolation room.
Removed scene of jogger finding George Shaw's corpse.
Removed scene of police determining that the corpse in the park is George Shaw.
Removed scene of Highland Creek staff finding Nate's notebook and passing it to management.
Reworked confrontation in the isolation chamber so that Sawyer just escapes after stabbing George/David in the neck, without seeing him snap Violet's neck. Her flight from the isolation chamber and arrival into the lot out back is intercut with a shortened sequence of Nurse Boles receiving a message, seeing the news story about Nate's death on TV, and the police arriving with the warrant. This then segues into the police search finding Nate's notebook, prompting the arrest of the hospital administrator.
Removed George/David recapturing Sawyer and the confrontation in the forest.
Trailer (Password: fanedit.org)

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10.0
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This edit takes what is ultimately a middling movie with a remarkable turn by Claire Foy and leans into everything that works about the original, tweaking and rearranging what does not fit. Keeping the film largely from Sawyer's perspective is one of the strongest choices, in my opinion. If we're going to tell a story about trauma, mental illness, and insurance fraud, keeping thing's chronological and cerebral is the way to go. Using the Matt Damon cameo as the cold open works wonderfully, providing just enough context to Sawyer's situation that we can both start to connect the dots and sympathize with our lead.

The added context from Matt Damon's cameo also sets the viewer up to understand Sawyer's two major panic/PTSD attacks (first with the bar guy, then more clearly with the asylum official) so that when David does appear, both Sawyer and the viewer experience the fear and confusion.

Where this edit is at its strongest, however, is with the final act. Keeping the focus on Sawyer and her escape from the asylum avoids the cliches of the original film--David turning from impotent stalker to explicit slasher felt like much more of a studio note than a natural conclusion to the narrative. I'll also say that I appreciate the trims to the Sawyer/Violet/David confrontation--Sawyer seizing her moment to escape feels much more satisfying without her also deliberately throwing Violet to the wolves.

Overall, a fantastic edit and the definitive version of this film in my personal opinion.

User Review

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Yes
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Digital
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