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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.76%
Worth A Look: 11.76%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Subject Two
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by Scott Weinberg

"Just because you know how to cheat death ... doesn't mean you should."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: There's so many things that are right with Philip Chidel's "Subject Two" it makes you wish there were ... well, just a few more. A slick take on the Frankenstein concept, a pair of excellent lead performances, and a crisp, austere directorial style are the highlights, but the thing moves at such a glacial pace that it nearly stops time.

Former set dresser, production secretary, video coordinator, and choreographer on a variety of films, writer/director Philip Chidel proves he's got the camera-work down cold, because the visual stylings of his Subject Two are quite dazzlingly beautiful. 97% of the film takes place in a wood cabin on the side of a beautifully scenic mountain, and Mr. Chidel knows how to light his set and move his camera.

Unfortunately, it's his screenplay that's all-but-immobile.

Our hero (?) is a cynical med student who accepts a very mysterious interview offer: Adam Schmidt is to journey to an isolated mountain road, where he'll be picked up and then dropped off at the bottom of a valley. After a healthy hike up the hill, Adam will then arrive at the secret cabin/research station of one Dr. Vick, and together they'll both work on a serum that, allegedly, eliminates pain and death.

Instead, here's how it goes: Adam gets to the cabin, chats for a little while with Dr. Vick ... and the doc kills Adam as soon as his back is turned.

Forunately for Adam (or maybe not so fortunately) the special serum works, and the clueless kid wakes up to discover that he's cheated death ... but he also really feels like crap. So Vick does what any good doctor would do.

He kills Adam again, makes a few alterations to the serum, and then re-animates Adam's corpse yet again. This pattern repeats itself several more times before Adam is able to function in somewhat normal fashion, but then a lost hunter wanders into the backyard and threatens to bring the death games a lot of unwanted attention.

Much like its similarly-themed Sundance sister thriller, Salvage, Subject Two offers a clever take on the whole 'life after death' concept, but both films suffer from being too little meat spread over a 90-minute meal. Once Subject Two settles in with its relatively engaging story, it simply stalls, repeats itself three or four times, and winds down with a satisfying (yet not all that shocking) mini-twist.

"Subject Two" suffers through a few dead ends, lost threads, and narrative cul-de-sacs, but there's certainly enough here for the curious horror fans to give it a look. I suspect a few snips, clips, and pace-tightening maneuvers could help this movie to be a whole lot better, but it's still just slick and smart enough to keep one's attention.

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originally posted: 01/30/06 15:01:34
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 San Francisco Independent Film Festival For more in the 2006 San Francisco Independent Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantasia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/29/06 Caig Smith Interesting concept that couls have explored more. A little to slow and emotionally unrewa 4 stars
9/05/06 Nevada Bob On that budget? A masterpiece! 5 stars
9/04/06 Indrid Cold Mildly interesting and original. The whole thing feels and looks cheap though. 3 stars
1/26/06 Don Meredoy Awesome! Beautiful and chilling. Moving! 5 stars
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  DVD: 18-Jul-2006



Directed by
  Philip Chidel

Written by
  Philip Chidel

  Christian Oliver
  Dean Stapleton
  Courtney Mace
  Jurgen Jones

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