Unhinged, Elevated Cinematography, Dull Story, Direction
Director: Dan Allen
Writer(s): Dan Allen, Scott Jeffrey
Release Date: February 12, 2018
Release Format: Streaming
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Running Time: 1 hr 33 min
A remake of the 1982 video nasty ‘Unhinged’. Four American best friends decide to take the back roads travelling to a wedding in England, on their way a deadly secret forces the girls to be stranded in the woods, where they discover a house occupied by Miss Perkins, who promises to look after them until help comes. Little do the girls know, a dark evil lurks in the attic above them, waiting until they’re alone and only when the girls come face to face with ‘it’ will they truly discover what real horror is.
Unhinged released early in February by ITN Distribution. The modern-day Horror adaptation is directed by Dan Allen. Scott Jeffrey pens the script. Produced by Proportion Productions.
Kate Lister (Fox Trap, 2016) – Melissa
Lucy-Jane Quinlan (Where Do We Go From Here, 2015) – Lisa
Becca Hirani (House on Elm Lake, 2017) – Gina
Lorena Andrea (Papillon, 2017) – Thalia
Michelle Archer (Let’s Go Home, 2016) – Miss Perkins
Melissa, her sister, Lisa, and her friends, Gina and Thalia are traveling to England for her wedding. What begins as a fun road trip takes a halt when they cross paths with a young man their age, who takes offense at their perceived judgment of him at first sight. Unfortunate events leave them stranded at an isolated, peaceful residence in the country after their car runs out of gas, miles away from the nearest town.
Dan Allen’s Unhinged is a much-needed modern-day restoration of Don Groquist’s 1982 film in three distinct areas. This is a statement I don’t make often as I am a big fan of films from the 1980s and 1990s. When you consider older films being adapted into modern-day productions, most of the time, the productions fail because of the lack of time, preparation and effort in the beginning stages by the production crew.
A lot of times, the process is an equivalent to a pawnshop owner finding an old, forgotten VHS tape in the attic that may be worth some money, dusting it off, and repackaging and selling it to his customers, and overpriced, I may add.
Here and there lie a few rare gems that make the cut. Two films I like to use as an example here are Dennis Iliadis’ modern-day adaptation of The Last House on the Left (2009) and Fede Alverez’s modern-day adaptation of Evil Dead (2013). These films don’t replace the original classics by Wes Craven (1972) and Sam Raimi (1981), however, they are some of the best attempts I have seen in the history of Horror cinema re-adaptation.
With Allen’s Unhinged in mind, the updated cinematography makes a big difference, as the original film’s cinematography has aged a great deal by today’s standards. Two, the special effects are better, which is appropriate. Last, the cast performances, while could have been better, made an effective impact.
Reading that Allen’s Unhinged is a re-adaptation of Groquist’s 1982 classic, and being the first time hearing of the film, I watched the original production first so I can compare and contrast to the modern-day adaptation. Also, reading that Groquist’s film is a “Video Nasty”, and being the first time hearing this term, I researched it. I’ve read that the term comes from the UK and it labeled video cassette films that exposed violent content. I’ve also come across a list of Video Nasties that are banned at one point, surprised that I had already seen a few of the films listed.
Unhinged (2018) takes an already good film and brings out its potential in modern-day Horror cinema. In a time where such films banned as being too sensitive for the public eye, Groquist’s 1982 production lives on the more bold and dangerous side. However, the production hindered by poor cinematography, special effects, and cast performances. Likewise, the filming technology is outdated, making the film look very much dated to today’s audience. Considering this, restoration is in order.
Allen and Jeffrey’s adapted story follows Melissa, Lisa, Gina, and Thalia, four women from America who are traveling across the country for a wedding. Stopping to get gas, Melissa runs into a man her age who appears to be down on his luck. She offers him some money to help, however, this is the beginning of a very awkward introduction.
Fast-forward moments later, the four women run into the gentleman again, but this time, on more unfavorable and hostile circumstances. After the next run of unfortunate events, they drive along a private back road on a near-empty gas tank. Their only immediate solution is to detour to an isolated house they come across hoping to find help. They meet Miss Perkins, the elderly lady who lives in the house who informs them, that their location is miles away from the nearest town. Their best bet is to take shelter in the house for the night and come up with a game plan the next day. However, as time progresses, Miss Perkins becomes an odd character to them, and more unfortunate events pursue, making their stay a fight for survival.
While the story build up isn’t bad, it should have stuck with Groquist and Ramsey’s original story following the young college-aged women whose car crashed in the woods during a bad storm. That is much more plausible than the adapted story where the car ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere on a road they should not have taken in the first place given a very distinct sign that prohibited it at the beginning. This is a plot observed so many times in Horror productions it has become a cliché.
Considering the very dated cinematography of Groquist’s original classic, Allen’s adaptation brings it to life. The 1982 film, the lighting is dark, and the camera angles in certain scenes were not the best of angles. Editing of the film isn’t the best, again, due to outdated technology. Allen’s 2018 adaptation has a much better cinematography and up-to-date technology, so the visual picture is more clear and distinct.
Special effects in the 1982 film are very-much outdated by today’s standards. Audiences needs for scare and gore today in Horror cinema are in demand on a much higher level of intensity. The intentional sneaky chills and thrills no longer cut it today. Audiences want to be pushed to their limits on a psychological level. They want to see the gore raw, uncensored, and uncut. Allen’s adaptation, while could have pushed the boundaries more, takes the special effects to the right direction, making it a better cinematic experience for modern-day audiences.
Dan Allen’s Unhinged is a much-needed modern-day adaptation to Don Groquist’s 1982 classic. The cinematography, special effects, and cast performances elevated when you compare to the original production. By the same token, the adapted story, written by Allen and Scott Jeffrey, should have stuck to the original story by Groquist and Reagan Ramsey. Also, the original characters should have remained the same in the adaptation.