Director Eric Wostenberg, no stranger to the horror genre, brings a refreshing script from David Nahmod, about medical doctors playing in the realm God, with good intentions and then bypassing the guidelines of FDA exchange for exceeding initial stages and bribing test subjects humans with more money and power. This vein of horror (pun intended) has had foundations in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), Frankenstein (1931) and continuing to Hollow Man (2000), providing a storyline of substance than sheer gore, allowing it to fester in a psychological thriller instead of a straight horror film, and viewers get a quality film.
The plot resonates in the common thread, two college students, Greg and Rob, signing up for extra spring break cash $3000 for a new allergy drug at a pharmaceutical facility, sounding familiar to Firestarter (1984), except their two-week stay may require a lengthy investment for them to handle, but the payoff might not cover the lasting effects. An interesting note in Nahmod’s screenplay is Greg (Travis Van Winkle) stars as the overachieving party machine with a greedy mindset and raging hormones while Rob (John Bregar) is a more passive and quiet a thinking man, but soon enough, the walls of the psyche come crumbling down exposing and exploring and facet in the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde paradigm. All thanks to the experiments of good natured but cunning Dr. Wilcox (Tricia Helfer) and her superiors, for all horror and cinema fans a clean white research institution never proves a clean style of living, just think back to the thriller from Michael Crichton’s Coma (1978). Eric’s style draws the viewer inside the environment, locking the doors behind, making part of the medical experience with patients learning that the allergy medication revelation exposes a hidden agenda, with the incentive of payoff money of $8000 to continue the project. This drug, repairs the body from surfaces, cuts, scrapes, stabbings to very critical areas, but a major downside exists, and the patients start to exhibit increasing aggression levels, and unbelievable rage and as with normal drug addicts, they will do anything for the next fix, and become PCP lunatics known for punching through protective glass without pain. Soon, enough the thriller aspect vanishes and unleashes the blood and gore, similar to Jeff Buhler’s Insanitarium (2008) with the patient feeding in a zombie like manner, feeding the horror crowd their just desserts.
Characters Nigel (Rik Young), a drug trial maniac, delivers outrageous comedic relief early on and plays well with the seriousness of Rob and the cockiness of Greg, who finds Aaron (Joe Pingue), overlooking and ignoring the nurse who, besides drawing the blood, brings the ominous warnings. The subtle unknown and uncommon actors worked in complex changing of character traits, providing Eric’s production with more personalities experiencing rage and cannibalism. This all assists in tight pace film, with the audience who can overlook minor plot holes, and allows the thriller to do the main work, and with the horror serving more as cleanup than the full force driving the movie, provides a solid creditable setting.
The thriller design of the film works as a countdown, with the screen pacing the time to zero hour, with the words “Dose #”, and assisted by the changing emotions of the limited staff and the sole doctor actions shows a fresh angle in the filming of the movie. Aside from the positive lies, sadness, that brings the film down to a b-movie level, the limited usage of actor Eric Roberts, appearing for mere minutes with black SUVs and a special ops team clothed in black taking care of the problems.
The tension works well making for a believable film, with a small setting, the number of patients to security guards and hospital measure well and smart, no vast industrial complex shown, perhaps from a distance, one wonders what a low story building on vast grounds houses inside, but that adds to the suspense greatly. This may have you reconsidering the side effects on your next dosage of medications, then again would you rather not to know what might happen to you. This film has the bells and whistles making for an enjoyable horror film, with a little mindless gore added onto the top for good measure.
This review was originally published in January 2015 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website with a view count of 1,754.
- Before pharmaceutical companies introduce a drug to the public, they test it on human subjects in three phases.
IMDb Rating: 5.2/10
Baron’s Rating: 5.0/10