Suspended Animation

SUSPENDED ANIMATION. 2001

Director: John Hancock

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



From the director of the minor classic horror film Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971) comes the creepy thriller, Suspended Animation. The title has only a mildly punning association with the film which is not about suspended animation, but about a film animator whose life gets suspended. The title probably attracted some of the wrong audience (sci-fi fans) & missed viewers of hard-edged thrillers. Being marketed as "Horror" might've gotten it the wrong audience too; it is a great film about a psychotic killer, but it is not the kind of high-camp slash-the-teenagers blood-squirting film that schlock horror fans seem all too often to prefer.

It should've been marketed as a noirishly frightening thriller. Laura Eastman does an absolutely fantastic job of creating the appealing, complex, eccentric, totally psychotic character of Vanessa Boulette. Alex McArthur is almost as good as the morbid film an imator who has a run-in with murderous Vanessa & her cannibal sister Ann (Sage Allen). The film launches itself with the standard "wrong turn" & "psychos in the woods" plotline but instead of dragging that one-note idea out for an hour & a half, it moves us through that gross-out story & then asks, how could a survivor of all that ever put his life back together?

How he copes with his horrific experience in its aftermath makes up the bulk of the film. It comes awfully close to being a perfect little story, but the ending is a bit muddy. The get-it-over-with shooting of Venessa's largely innocent daughter was neither well-staged nor interesting, & it probably would've been more satisfactory (in the gruesome context) to have her survive & have to live with now knowing who her hideous mother was.

It's another of those films that had no idea how to create an emotional or shocking climax, having already provided all its best bits earlier in the story. In fact it's one of those sorts of films that makes writerly viewers wish we could've seen the script in time to save the mediocre ending from itself.

Still, in its entirety, this film deserves a great deal more attention than it has thus far gotten.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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