Unhinged

INTERVIEW: Derrick Borte on Bringing ‘Unhinged’ to the Big Screen

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Unhinged, the new action/thriller is out today in theaters starring Russell Crowe (Boy Erased), Caren Pistorius (Mortal Engines), and Gabriel Batemen (Child’s Play 2019).

In the film, Rachel (Pistorius) is driving her son (Bateman) to school. Along the way, she ends up pissing off an unnamed man (Crowe) who has the worst case of road rage I’ve ever seen. As the man begins to track down her friends and acquaintances, killing and maiming anyone who gets in his way, Rachel is forced to embrace her own rage in order to stop him.

iHorror spoke to Derrick Borte, the film’s director, in advance of the release. The director had a lot to say about making the film which all began after he was called in for a meeting with the execs at Solstice Studios who saw and loved his previous film, American Dreamer.

“Like, literally a week later, I get a call and they passed along the script,” Borte said. “I picked it up and clearly it was one of those scripts I couldn’t put down. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen on the next page. I liked the script which is a great place to start. I liked the people just from previous experience or knowing them before. It just felt like the right thing at the right time.”

He had no idea just how challenging making the film might be, however. Nor did he realize how much the environment would play into their shooting schedule.

They arrived in New Orleans to face daily lightning storms that regularly shut down production for hours at a time. Then there was the actual hurricane that hit during production which left power outages and flood streets in its wake, a particular challenge for a film that takes place primarily in constantly moving cars. This is to say nothing of the heat index that kept temperatures well above 110 degrees some days.

“You have to get an IV at lunch just to stay hydrated,” the director joked. “You’re dealing with cars, sometimes old cars where the air conditioning isn’t that great where the actors are in vehicles that are not able to keep them as cool as we’d like to keep them.”

Luckily for Borte, his cast was up for the challenge, and helped keep him on track with their sheer resilience and work ethic.

“You had Russell who knows what everyone on set is doing or is supposed to be doing better than they do,” he explained. “You really have to step up and bring your A-game with him. And Gabe has such experience as well and knowledge for a teenager. He’s such an old soul. Caren Pistorius was such a find and such a pleasure to work with in that she just has a wonderful combination of authenticity and strength along with being captivating on screen. Everyday was great coming to work with these guys, you know.”

With Unhinged finally “in the can,” the long journey through editing began. It wasn’t easy piecing together a film with so much action. Choosing the best shots that carried the narrative forward while still maintaining and sometimes ratcheting up the level of tension was an arduous process all on its own.

Again, Borte says, he lucked out, though. His editorial team was incredibly creative and the process was a lot smoother than it could have been in less capable hands.

“Some days I’d come in with an idea and I’d say, ‘Hey do you want to try this?'” he said. “Or some days I’d come in and they’re already two steps ahead of me with three different versions of a scene cut together. And knowing me, I’d say, ‘Give me the beginning of option 3, the middle of option 1, and then the end of option 2. Let’s try it again.’ It’s a huge undertaking but when you have a great team it makes things a lot easier and a lot more fun.”

What neither the filmmaker nor cast could have anticipated, however, was the arrival of Covid-19 and the havoc it would play on the release schedule for Unhinged. The film has been delayed multiple times as studios and theaters scramble to come up with new ways of distributing films with the new safety measures in place.

Luckily for the director, he was able to attend a screening of the film in January and he says, seeing Unhinged in a theater was the ultimate experience for the film.

“We did a test in January for 450 people,” Bored said. “That was really amazing to see the film in a packed room like that. The tension level was so high. The gasps and the reactions were so different than someone watching it at home or even worse, on a phone somewhere you know. Seeing this film in a room full of people adds a whole knew level to how thrilling it is.”

The theaters may not be full, but Unhinged is finally out for audiences to see beginning today August 21, 2010. Check out the trailer for the film below, and let us know if you’ll be seeing it down in the comments!

Waylon Jordan is a lifelong fan of genre fiction and film especially those with a supernatural element. He firmly believes that horror reflects collective fears of society and can be used as a tool for social change.