Sublime proudly boasts the slogan “When what you fear becomes real”. Fear is something that most people will have in some form or other. Whether it's in the form of a simple phobia or the downright apprehension of your worst nightmares, we all have something hidden away deep inside that we're scared of. Horror films usually fall into a stereotypical mode of delivery and try to exploit the more commonly known fears but it takes something genuinely special to move away from that to provide truly bone chilling horror and suspense. It's quite bold therefore for a film made within a mere fifteen days that then claims to singularly represent fear itself.
Sublime is a straight to video production. In most instances that itself speaks volumes as to the likely inherent quality of the material. Generally you would be forgiven to expect such productions to be a lower grade of stuff that the studios have deemed a little way too far off of being worthy of general public showing. Now I must admit when I received this disc, my personal fear was that it simply wasn't going to be any good or certainly not good enough. The movie is however produced by Tony Krantz of televisions “24” series and written by Erik Jendresen of “Band of Brothers” fame so there was perhaps enough quality there to suggest a little surprise may have been in store.
George Grieves (Tom Cavanagh) is a middle-aged family man who is about to attend hospital for a colonoscopy. It's considered a routine medical procedure and for those that don't know what a colonoscopy is; I'm not going to expand upon it any further other than saying that the operation is at the nether ends of the body! George is slightly uneasy about having it done and also about having to go into hospital. He's accompanied with his wife (Kathleen York) and they both go to the hospital to meet with the consultant, an Iranian doctor by the name of Dr Sharazi (Cas Anvar). Dr Sharazi explains the procedure, comforts both of them that all will be well and the nurse helps to prepare him. The preparation goes well apart from the fact that when he sits down onto the wheelchair he accidentally nicks his leg with a tiny cut; a touch of nerves you see. It's not a show stopper, especially when the nurse is a lovely Zoe Bienvenue (Katherine Cunningham-Eves) so off to the operating theatre they go.
Now to be quite clear I think it's best to point out right now that the basic premise and storytelling of this film is actually back to front. What you experience is how the actual story unfolds with the explanation of what has gone on before, coming right at the end of it. In other words it's a jigsaw that you have to progressively piece together.
George has his operation and awakens sometimes afterward. He finds that he is sweating quite profusely and more alarmingly finds that he has been operated upon just beneath his lower chest. A colonoscopy is certainly nowhere near the chest, so something clearly had gone wrong. George is left laid stricken in his bed, in complete agony and left wondering what on earth the doctors had done to him. Unfortunately due to an administrative mix up involving his surname, the surgeons actually performed a sympathectomy upon him in an operation that was meant for another patient. A sympathectomy is a specialist operation that's performed to help to reduce people from sweating in certain areas of the body. Clearly this discovery is of no consolation to George and the film from hereon becomes a medical house of horrors as well as a demonstration of horrific professional ineptitude.
As George drifts in and out of consciousness his paranoia begins to take a hold of him and he begins to suspect that everything and everyone around him is actually party to what has happened to him. The film plays on the fact that anyone finding himself or herself in his unfortunate position would have increasingly depressive and negative thoughts. Much of the fear and horror continue to drip feed their way throughout the movie in similar fashion. For example, the small nick he suffered on his leg prior to the operation develops into a rather serious infection that results in his leg having to be amputated. Things just turn from bad to worse for George Grieves and it soon becomes clear that his only way out of hospital is only ever going to be by trying to escape .
Driven on by his inquisitiveness and along with the help of nurse Bienvenue, he begins to explore the hospital on his wheelchair in order to find out why everything went so disastrously wrong. Invariably it's a futile task and all roads lead to seemingly closed doors. Peculiarly, what also begins as a plutonic patient-nurse relationship then also quite suddenly develops into a brief sexual encounter. Katherine Cunningham-Eves in a nurses uniform would certainly raise many a red-blooded patients temperature but the scene is not in keeping with the movie.
Furthermore, a mysterious hospital attendant by the name of Mandingo (Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs) tends to George's daily caring. The film readily builds on George's fear of this rather strange and unknown character. You can always sense that Mandingo is going to play a big part in the final throws of this film. He doesn't disappoint. Armed with a set of gardening prunes and a sick, twisted imagination he does the sort of things to George that will make you wince immeasurably so.
Sublime was made on a limited budget and also in ultra quick time. Most of the story is set in a singular hospital room meaning everything is quite claustrophobic and constrictive. The film adds some variety by interspersing flashbacks to spruce up the interest. Some further intrigue is injected in that the hospital has a derelict side of it known as the East Wing. It's an out of bounds area and it helps to add an air of mystery and tension. Frankly, it doesn't amount to much in the end and it certainly is not enough to make up for the general lack of depth elsewhere.
Being the unrated version of the movie the horror is gruesome and quite graphic, especially towards the end. Unfortunately there's simply not enough of it to make up for the overall shortcomings of the whole movie. To its credit the film tries to be different and in part tries to offer some originality but you never feel it to ever be engagingly so. It's never convincing enough, since the fear the movie is wholly built around is akin to the fear many of us have when going to the dentist. In other words it feels rather generalised.
I had a fear that this movie wouldn't be great and after watching it, the slogan “when what you fear becomes real” certainly had some resonance with me. You may not think so, so maybe a rental is in order for you to make up your own mind ?