Patients Questions Own Sanity in Thought-Provoking Sci-Fi Thriller
When George Grieves (Thomas Cavanagh) enters Mt. Abaddon Hospital the day after his 40th birthday for a routine colonoscopy, his chart, by mistake, gets switched with the man in the bed next to him. As a result, his surgeon performs an unnecessary, invasive operation on his chest, a medical error which is further complicated after an infection sets in and he has to lose a leg.
While lying there trapped and waiting to recover, our protagonist comes to regret the original decision to have the doctor-recommended procedure. For he learns that his predicament is not all that uncommon, as there are about a million iatrogenic deaths per year in the U.S., the result of accidents by physicians during diagnostic procedures or treatment.
In this case, the error takes a toll not only on the patient’s physical well-being, but also on the state of his mental health. George finds himself so frustrated in his efforts to get to the bottom of the incident that he first becomes paranoid and then gradually starts to question his own sanity.
In the course of his investigation, he discovers that an abnormal number of similar mishaps have been happening at Abaddon, a place where people come not to heal, but to die. This is the thought-provoking premise of Sublime, an impressive directorial debut by film producer Tony Krantz (Mulholland Drive).
Relatively-sophisticated for a sci-fi horror flick, this psychological thriller scares the bejesus out of you while subtly using malpractice as metaphor for an unacknowledged aspect of American culture. As Krantz explains it, “I saw this as an opportunity to make a socio-political allegory and commentary on principally white, upper middle-class fear in our culture.”
The cast includes Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs who everyone remembers as Freddie “Boom-Boom” Washington from Welcome Back, Kotter.
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexuality, violence and disturbing images.
Running time: 112 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: Commentary by and interviews with the director and scriptwriter, a featurette entitled “Surgical Exorcism,” and a trailer.