09th Oct2017

‘Unhinged’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kate Lister, Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Becca Hirani, Lorena Andrea, Louisa Warren, Michelle Archer, Faye Goodwin, Zak Russell-Jones, Tommy Vilés | Written by Dan Allen, Scott Jeffrey | Directed by Dan Allen

unhinged-dvd-cover

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…

I’ll be honest, it’s been years since I last saw former video nasty Unhinged, even the 2014 re-release DVD from 88 Films (who alos released this iteration of the film) passed me by. So I can safely say there’s no way I could compare the two films – which is probably for the best given that this tale transplants the story to the UK and adds a modern touch to proceedings. But then the only reason I ever watched the original film was because it was on the Video Nasties list… And we all know how that list compares to genre films of today – a LOT of the films named as “Nasties” couldn’t feel tamer if they tried. Especially Unhinged, which is one of the more mundane slasher movies to make the list, with only a sprinkling of gore and nudity to garner any controversy.

This version of the story comes from Champ Dog Films and Proportion Productions, two newcomers who have, recently, exploded onto the scene thanks to a deal with Left Films, who released House on Elm Lake and Darker Shades of Elise and who have a number of films already in the can, including Fox Trap and 12 Deaths of Christmas (aka Mother Krampus), which are set for release very soon. And much like those films, Unhinged features some now-familiar names and faces, including Becca Hirani from Darker Shades; and Kate Lister from Fox Trap. And that, I think, is the key to this companies current success – the tight-knit community they’ve built both in front of, and behind, the camera.

The film itself plays out much like the original. Insomuch as it’s a slow-burn for the majority of the movies runtime, until the final third where the violence and insanity explodes on screen. Well, I say violence but – like Don Gronquist’s original – this film is actually pretty timid, especially when it comes to the gore that you’d typically expect from a slasher movie. Instead director Dan Allen uses a LOT of fake blood and a grisly sound mix to make up for a lack of make-up effects.

Speaking of slasher movie tropes, it would seem – on the surface – that this Unhinged is pandering to the same “horny teenage boy” audience that the genre did back in the 80s, with a brief love scene between two of the girls. However don’t let that cloud your judgement. Whilst it may SEEM like it’s pandering for that brief moment, in this remake these girls are the strong, self-assured types: gone are the jazz-loving teens of the original and in comes a foursome who start the day by killing a man and dumping him in the back of their car… Talk about character changes! In some ways it’s an odd choice. The original film’s heroines were unsuspecting victims, whereas these women, thanks to their actions, seem more deserving of everything they get.

Yet what’s most interesting about this film – at least to this reviewer – is just how they snagged the rights to remake a former video nasty? And why remake one that, in all honesty, wasn’t that well-received in the first place? You have to believe that by choosing a film like Unhinged to remake, Proportion & Champ Dog knew it would give them a chance to put out a great film – after all, it doesn’t take much to make a film better than the original, at least in terms of production values -  and at the same time allow them to cash in on the notoriety of remaking a “Video Nasty,” and all that comes with that: a built in audience, name recognition etc.

So does Unhinged succeed as a remake? Certainly. Does it work as a stand-alone horror? Definitely. Is Unhinged worth your time and, more importantly, your money? Undoubtedly.

Unhinged is out now on DVD from 88 Films.

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