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The horror genre is in a bit of a renaissance right now. Rather than stale franchises and torture porn, there are new and original horror movies hitting theaters every few months. Acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh is even getting in on the action, with his new psychological thriller Unsane. The film has been getting a ton of press for it being completely shot on an iPhone, but horror fans will also be pleased with its cast. Playing opposite The Crown's Claire Foy is actor Joshua Leonard, who is perhaps best known for his iconic role in 1999's The Blair Witch Project. I recently asked him what he thought of the state of the genre, especially in the wake of Get Out's recent Oscar win. The Unsane star told me,
I was so glad that Get Out got recognized, because it was as technically great and socially relevant and well written and executed as any of the other movies last year. I think it's another example of a film that plays as a traditional thriller, but also Trojan Horses its way into other issues that are socially relevant. And that's one of the great things from the genre. And I love that we're moving farther away from the slasher film and the kill count, to the opportunity to say something, but do it in a fun and scary way.
Joshua Leonard has seen the horror genre go in many places in the nearly 20 years since he made his debut in The Blair Witch Project, especially in the past few years. With Get Out having broken the door for horror movies to possibly become award fodder, it seems like the future is wide open for future thrillers to possibly get nominations.
Get Out is one of the most widely successful films of last year, and Jordan Peele's directorial debut quickly became a massive pop culture moment. The film tackled difficult issues of race, while also providing plenty of scares and fun for audiences. It's this tradition that Joshua Leonard seems to hope continues. Just because a movie is scary doesn't necessarily mean that it can't also have a message. Other than run away from danger.
Meanwhile, Unsane is tackling its own set of issues. The psychological thriller centers around a woman named Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) who is suffering from trauma related to her stalker (Joshua Leonard). In addition to bringing attention to issues revolving around mental health issues, it also seems to be making a statement about the mental health and system in the country. Sawyer is essentially tricked into being admitted, which may or may not have to do with her medical insurance's ability to pay for a week's stay.
You can judge the message of Unsane for yourself now, as it's currently in theaters. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.