Sunday, October 28, 2007


Do You See What I See

This turned out to be a horror weekend, if I had opted to watch One Last Breath yesterday, a Japanese horror movie set in a hospital. Instead, I had chosen Unrest today, which also takes place in a hospital, not in the morgue but at a lab for anatomical lessons, where would be surgeons obtain their baptism of fire from those who had decided to donate their bodies for scientific causes. The gimmick (if I can call it that way) of this movie, is that it touts itself having to be the very first to include real dead bodies, aka cadavers, in film. That already gave you a natural queasy feeling that what's shown on screen, are actual bodies, and you wonder how the filmmakers got away with ethical issues and the likes.

The very first time I've come up close with cadavers, was during an exhibition called Body Worlds where you have them dissected at various angles and at various stages, each in poses that exhibited how the human body reacts, involving which muscle groups and nerves. It was extremely educational, and one which opened your eyes to the miracle that exist within you, like a well oiled, well plumbed system only capable of being assembled by someone or something far superior. I wondered in amazement how so much can be jammed pack within a reasonably slim frame, and while the exhibition wasn't creepy at the least, you'd still wondered a little about the background of these donors, and where they'd come from.

Dr Alison Blanchard (Corri English) is one of the new doctors chosen from amongst thousands to participate in anatomical lessons, but as you know with horror stories, things do go bump in the night, and having her stay in the dorm of the hospital doesn't help a lot. The cadaver her group gets issued start to give her the creeps, and while constantly reminded to treat their assigned cadavers with respect, there will definitely be the resident joker who will be the catalyst of things to come. Slowly she too starts to wonder about the background of the strange cadaver with self-inflicted wounds, and thus begins a race against time to uncover the truth and mystery behind a series of unexplainable deaths.

As a horror movie, the usual tricks in the bag get unleashed at full velocity, with creepy sounds and light and shadow play all rolled into one and cranked to the maximum. Somehow the Undead felt like it was toying with you, bringing things to a crescendo, yet censoring itself from the violence and gore that you'd come to expect. While it deals with the supernatural, it doesn't follow convention of late by showing you, in full detail, how each victim dies, opting rather to save themselves the trouble to, and providing (perhaps unintentionally) some mystery behind the deaths. However, hope not for Asian horror like atmospherics, mood and buildup, as this movie tried to take a stab at that, but more often than not, failed miserably.

While there are plot loopholes abound, and the cursory romantic tangle and several character motivations that were unclear and never answered, I thought what worked were its gimmick, and of course some very nicely done special effects, without which the movie will indeed fall flat. And those who have watched Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, will enjoy the back story Unrest weaved in greater detail, and reminisce that particular scene from Gibson's movie, where truly, it's more horrific to know that man had inflicted that kind of pain and suffering before.

There had been a few movies from After Dark Films that have been released locally (Skinwalkers, Captivity and An American Haunting), and while I don't have the figures of their box office foray, from what I've seen in the trailers on the official site, there could be a lot more potential to be tapped from there, knowing how popular this genre is with local audiences.

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