Review: Unhinged (2017)

A remake of an 80s video nasty, transferring the action from America to the quiet countryside of Essex in a modern take on the classic slasher.

Melissa (Kate Lister) and her three friends have come from America and are travelling along the back roads of England on route to her wedding. When Melissa is attacked, her sister Lisa (Lucy-Jane Quinlan) accidentally kills the attacker when trying to save her. Concerned as to how this would look, they decide to hide the body in the boot of the car with the intention of burying the body later.

After continuing their journey, they run out of petrol in the middle of the Essex countryside. With nothing around for several miles, they seek help from a nearby cottage, where the solo occupier Miss Perkins (Michelle Archer) offers them somewhere to stay until the local gardener returns to help. No phones, no help and a dead body in the car. Things may seem bad now, but they don’t realise it’s going to get worse.

In the horror genre characters are renowned for making bad decisions and disregarding warnings, but the girl’s in unhinged take this to a whole new level. What do you do when you accidentally kill someone who attacked you in the middle of nowhere? Call the police? Hide the body there? Or just drive away? Unfortunately, none of these options are considered, as they decide to take the body with them. I guess when a woman is determined to get married, she won’t let something like a dead body ruin the big day. This is just the start of their bad decision making because it doesn’t end there, as they continue to contribute to their own demise.

Although the film has been marketed as a remake of the original video nasty slasher Unhinged (1982), a lot of the blood and violence happens off screen. Director Dan Allen deciding to build on the apprehension, allowing the audience a chance to envisage something a lot more graphic than they could have filmed. There are a few moments, like a torture scene, where Thalia (Lorena Andrea) is chained up and there’s the creative use of a rake. Viewers who are expecting a blood bath however may be disappointed, but that can also be said about the original.

The first half of the film is a bit disjointed and with the decisions being made it could have worked better as a comedy. This would have worked well with Archer playing the more than slightly unhinged Miss Perkins. She manages to steal each scene as she moves between the ever-accommodating host, to a stern eccentric and lone hunter. It may not be the most original character, but she is enjoyable to watch.

The girls seem preoccupied with their own personal issues, with the body in the boot seeming nothing more than a hindrance. Thankfully when a job needs doing Gina (Becky Fletcher) is on hand to deal with the situation, whilst the others take on more pressing matters like searching the house. Gina managing to dig a hole deep enough to fit a coffin in front of the house in no time. I guess if you have any urgent gardening needs, she is the new Charlie Dimmock.

With a slow build up, it’s in the last 30 minutes where the film works best. Continuing to build up the tension, the pace starts to move with a bit more purpose. Lister really comes into her own as one of the final girls, taking on the masked killer and even finding time to call her fiance to tell him that she’s sorry. I am sure he would have preferred she give an explanation as to why she didn’t turn up two days earlier and missed the wedding.

Overall Unhinged may be predictable and full of the classic horror clichés, but it has some good moments and once it gets going, is a lot of fun. I don’t think being called a remake is beneficial to the film, as it doesn’t have the expected gore to warrant the marketing as a remake of a video nasty. The referencing is likely to leave people disappointed, where it should stand up as a horror movie on its own.

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