Director: Don Gronquist
Starring: Laurel Munson, Janet Penner, Sara Ansley, Virginia Settle, John Morrison
The nightmare begins when you wake up
The three young girls Gloria, Nancy and Terry are going on a road trip together for a rock concert, but midway on their journey they get into a bad car accident and have to abandoned those plans. They wake up in a dark house where they have been brought to regain their health.
The house is owned by an old woman in a wheelchair named Edith Penrose, but everything that gets done around the house is done by her daughter Marion. Edith threats Marion like crap and it doesn’t take long before the young girls start to feel uncomfortable in the house and also not long before they figure out that their life is in danger…
Unhinged is an unknown early 80’s slasher film (well, its honestly more of a thriller) that is only still known because it ended up being one of the infamous Video Nasty movies in Britain during their video violence hysteria.
The film is obviously very low budget, but the filmmakers still tried their best to create some atmosphere and deliver an interesting story. It’s easy to see that this project actually has some effort put behind it, but either the lack of money or talent made it not really go anywhere. Sadly it has too many dull scenes and also a pace that doesn’t make the story work.
They should have spent more time in the first part of the film with developing the young female characters. None of the three girls stand out from each other and it becomes hard to care about any of them. With more backstory about them in the start they could have cut down on the slow scenes in the middle of the film and also maybe made the film work better as a whole.
That being said, it could also have made the film worse since the three actresses were quite terrible. Janet Penner as the tormented Marion however does an impressive job with her very complex and tough character. She didn’t do a lot of films, but she also followed up this with another unknown horror film called The Haunting of Sarah Hardy. The performance she gives in this does make it seem like she was an experienced actress since she is the only one giving a really good performance here.
The director and co-screenwriter behind this is Don Gronquist, a guy that would only direct one other film a few years later called The Devil’s Keep (even if the title sounds like it, it isn’t a horror film). I can’t say I was impressed by his work here, neither when it comes to the screenplay that he co-wrote with Reagen Ramsey (although the film does have an effective twist ending) or his choppy directing. Some might be blamed on the lack of experience of course, but that isn’t an excuse that helps the viewer that choses to sit through it.
Unhinged is only for those who love low budget horror films of the 80’s. While it does have some good stuff going about it like the ending and the Marion character, it is ultimately just a too slow and poorly done film to be enjoyable.