NOVEMBER 29, 2010
Should I just add “Forced Organ Donor” as a sub-genre? How many goddamn times are horror movies going to go to this well? Sutures is a reasonably well made horror film, but I just sort of mentally checked out once I realized that once again our heroes were being tortured/killed for GOOD CAUSES. And that was a problem, because the last 10 minutes includes a lot of baffling and inane plot twists that I had trouble following. “What happened to my generic organ harvesting movie? What’s all this nonsense?” So I had to re-watch the last 20 minutes to try to “get” it, which I DO, now, but it’s still poorly written and clumsily revealed.
Like Captifs, our heroes are actually in the medical profession (who was first, I wonder?), and, again like Captifs, the filmmakers fail to really make any interesting ironic points about folks who have dedicated their lives to saving others being forced into this position, where they are more literally giving their lives to save others. But maybe that’s because these are young, pretty med students, not yet doctors like in Captifs, so they’re too busy flirting with one another and screwing around to bother doing anything original. There’s some minor difficulty in spotting who will be the first/last to die (apart from the obvious Final Girl), but otherwise they’re a pretty generic lot.
Luckily, the killers themselves have some minor characterization, particularly the two main baddies, one of whom is played by Andrew Prine. I wasn’t even aware he was still acting (apart from Tarantino’s episode of CSI, where he played Nick’s dad, the most recent film of his that I have seen is Amityville II), so I was quite happy to see him here, making like Lance Henriksen or Ronny Cox as a well dressed but crazy silver haired villain who runs his “only in horror movies” operation like a business. I even admired some of his techniques – he’s actually trying to make med students (not OUR med students) into great doctors by having them work under incredible duress. For example, he has one of our heroes tied up on a wall, with another guy causing massive injuries that the would-be doctor has to patch up as quickly as possible. It’s a cool little sequence.
The other big bad guy is Alexander, played by screenwriter Carlos Lauchu. Sticking with the theme of “but their intentions are noble!”, he’s actually gathering victims to be guinea pigs for some experiment designed to find a cure for the rare disease his daughter has. Aw, so sweet – why do you need to tie up random mechanics and cut them up for this, exactly? That’s the problem I have with these organ movies for the most part – if they want the organs, fine – why torture everyone? There’s a throwaway line that the people who want the organs don’t want any outside chemicals in them, I guess that’s supposed to explain away this obvious plot hole. Doesn’t quite work.
Back to the rather muddled storytelling, the entire thing is actually a flashback, as our Final Girl (the lovely Allison Lange, who just last week I was saying “I want to see her in more stuff” after she made a brief appearance in Bright Falls, a webisode prequel thing to the game Alan Wake) is telling the story to a cop, played by one of the Londons (not the one who was kidnapped and forced to shoot heroin though). And her story doesn’t even go in order, it cuts back and forth between the group on their way to their doom with the account of how she first met them. Who the fuck cares? If I want to try to keep track of three separate timelines, I’ll watch The Event, which at least offers some occasional D.B. Sweeney.
So I wasn’t too surprised to learn on the extra features that this was a mechanically designed project, with the writers wanting to do a horror movie but feeling that their existing story was too similar to other movies, so they came up with the organ donor stuff (great irony there). And of course, the movie wastes no time in clearly revealing its half-assed design, by more or less opening at the goddamn Linda Vista Hospital, a location seemingly only used by low budget horror film productions that are designed with budgets and locations in mind instead of a story. To be fair, they also go to that weird castle in the desert that was used in Alive Or Dead – at least I’m not completely sick of that place yet. Anyway, the making of is otherwise fairly worthless, as it’s just about 50 minutes of fly on the wall behind the scenes footage, with most of the interview footage (none of which features the director, interestingly) is at the beginning of the piece. Unless you love watching people work without context, just fast forward through it until you see a talking head and do something more productive with the rest of your time.
So if you haven’t seen Turistas, Train, Captifs, Macabre... um, you should (well, not Train), because they’re better than this. Again, it’s a well made film, and there are some nice touches here and there (love the hand still trapped in the cuff when they chain one guy to a wall), and Prine is a hoot, but the generic motive seems like an afterthought, and the final scenes are riddled with needless twists and a general lack of excitement.
What say you?