LOS ANGELES: In any other year, “Unhinged” would have passed without notice, an enjoyable popcorn flick closing out the summer season after blockbuster movies have come and gone. But this year, the road rage thriller found itself in the fast lane with everyone paying attention.
In May, “Unhinged” promised to “test the waters” for film distributors as the first film to open in U.S. theaters after shutdowns prompted by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Now, after three rounds of delays, the film will deliver on that promise as theaters try to bounce back from months of closure. Arab News was joined by film stars Russell Crowe and Caren Pistorius to learn more about the film.
“Unhinged” has a simple premise that draws on an experience anyone who’s been behind the wheel of a car knows all too well: road rage. The film follows divorced single mother Rachel, played by Pistorius, stuck behind a van in rush hour traffic.
Unbeknownst to her, the man in the truck, played by Crowe, is the same one that audiences witnessed murder a couple and burn down their house in the cold openness of the film. After honking and screaming, Rachel finds herself being chased by the man as he embarks on a vicious rampage to destroy everything and everyone Rachel loves.
“Some people seem to take advantage of that moment when you’re vulnerable like that to threaten you with cars, and that never made sense to me,” Crowe said of his experiences with angry drivers in life. real.
Nonetheless, Crowe is able to capture that anger and bring it to life in the extreme here. Crowe, credited as simply “The Man”, spins in an engaging and intimidating performance. His first conversation with Rachel where he asks her to apologize for honking his horn is chilling, his barely contained rage overriding his attempt to be polite. And once his campaign of terror begins in earnest, his deep growl and gravity serve to carry the film.
As is the case with most slasher movies, the star of the film is the villain. The job of the rest of the cast is to run, panic, and in many cases, be murdered.
“It was incredibly physically and emotionally draining because I can’t help but get myself into that mindset,” Pistorius told Arab News. “Two whole months in a row. I had maybe two days off. At the end of the two months, I think I slept for two weeks straight.
After their first meeting, Pistorius and Crowe rarely share screen time, aside from chase scenes in their respective vehicles.
“Most of our scenes took place over the phone,” Pistorius said. Nonetheless, she was grateful to have been able to work with her veteran actor. “I just made sure to really watch, observe and learn as much as I could.”
Of course, being a road rage movie, what “Unhinged” delivers the most are the chase scenes. Neither protagonist is a wild driver in real life, with Crowe describing herself as rather laid back in the car and Pistorius going so far as to call herself “a bit of a grandma” when driving. In fact, she told us that prior to the shoot, she hadn’t driven in over a year.
“I kind of forgot what it’s like to be on the road,” Pistorius said. “When we had intense dialogue scenes, I had a stuntman sitting in a cage above me and he was actually controlling the car. It was really amazing the first time around. It was like doing a roller coaster ride. Then, for the scenes where there wasn’t a lot of dialogue, I was driving.
“Unhinged” is not a deep film. Crowe spins in an entertaining performance, and his depiction of a man who has slipped beyond civility into violence is, appropriately for the genre, more of a force of nature than a character. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t seem to be on the same page, either trying to study the characters or comment on social media, but not entirely up to scratch either. “The Man” is also divorced and now resents society, women in particular. However, not much is done with the idea, leaving the film unsure of what it wants to be. The writers play with their antagonist being Michael Douglas in “Falling Down” but really all he needed to be was Jason Voorhees in a truck.