Can Somebody Please Explain How this Part of ‘Unsane’ Makes Any Sense?


Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane is one of those movies that completely enraptures you during its running time, only to leave you spending the rest of the night poking holes in the plot and realizing that none of it seems to make that much sense. Looking back on the film — which I really enjoyed, by the way — knowing what was going on the whole time, I have so many questions.

*Warning: Major spoilers for Unsane lie ahead*

Based on the marketing and setup of Unsane, it very much seemed like Soderbergh would keep us guessing throughout about whether Sawyer’s stalker, David, has legitimately followed her to the psychiatric ward she has been involuntarily committed to or whether she’s just seeing things. Sawyer does see David a few times when he’s not there, so there’s reason to believe that a lot of this might be in her head.

But it doesn’t take much time at all for Soderbergh to reveal that none of this is in fact in Sawyer’s head. David really is there working at the hospital.

As the movie progresses, we learn that David killed a man, George Shaw, and assumed his identity; George’s body is buried out in the woods, and this will eventually be David’s undoing. We also discover that the hospital is operating a giant scam, admitting patients against their will until their insurance runs out.

My first question is, how exactly did David wind up infiltrating this hospital? Are you telling me that there just happened to be a guy working there who looked exactly like David, so David killed him, did a swap, and absolutely nobody noticed that their coworker was replaced with a completely different human being? Is this some American Psyhco shit?

Or is it that George Shaw has never worked at this hospital, and David simply used his identity in order to apply for a job there? That would mean that David just happened to find a man with an extensive medical background to kill on fairly short notice.

That brings me to another question: when exactly did all of this happen? Sawyer Googles “support groups for victims of stalking,” and she goes to the hospital fairly soon after that. The first time she sees David, it’s her second day there (not counting when she mistakes another doctor for him).

There are really only two possible explanations for the timeline, then. One, David was already working at the hospital before Sawyer arrived. That would be completely ridiculous; how the hell could he have possibly foreseen that Sawyer was going to pay a visit to this particular facility and be involuntarily committed?

The more realistic option would seem to be that David stalked Sawyer to the hospital during her initial visit at the start of the film. Then, he did the swap literally less than 24 hours before the first time Sawyer sees him.

That would mean that things just happened to work out for David to such an absurd degree that it’s hilarious. The woman he’s stalking just so happens to pay a visit to a hospital that just so happens to be operating a scam where they involuntarily commit people. The staff of this hospital also just so happens to have a well-respect employee who looks exactly like David and can apparently be easily replaced without anyone noticing.

Could it be that George was just recently hired, and Sawyer arrived at the hospital between his hiring and his first day? This would explain why everyone at the hospital is aware that a guy named George should be working there but they seem completely clueless that he’s not supposed to look like David. But again, if that were to be the case, how would David possibly find this all out? And what are the odds that not only does Sawyer happen to visit this scam hospital, but she also visits a scam hospital that also had a new employee starting the day after she checked in? And would that new employee really be so integrated into the hospital on his first day?

Basically, unless I am completely missing something, every single interpretation of the film seems to be at least a little bit dumb. But boy did I have fun watching it.

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