Saturday, January 13, 2007

Anesthesia (2006)

After watching this 6 minute short, I never, ever want to go under the knife. Anesthesia is totally cringe-worthy and had me covering my eyes for most of it. It is not even gory, it just made me so uncomfortable that I literally was squirming in my seat!

A woman prays before going into surgery. Once on the operating table, she tells the nurse to keep her cross necklace close by. The nurse administers the anesthesia, but to the woman's horror she can still see, hear and feel what is going on. Her eyes are wide open, but she cannot cry out to the doctors or even move. The doctors prepare for surgery, taping her eyes shut and pulling a sheet over her head to expose the area to be operated on. The surgeon lifts the scalpel as the woman screams in her own head, pleading God to take her away from this agony...

This is definitely the most intense short film I've seen in a long time, and deserves much praise. The director, Adam Kargman, knows how to build tension to a fevered pitch until you don't want to watch what will happen next but have to, like when you pass a really horrendous accident on the freeway. Kargman makes you feel the horror and agony that the patient goes through. Coupled with the many "accidents" happening in hospitals all the time and based on the real-life phenomenon of "anesthesia awareness", this short sure makes me squeamish about being anesthetized.

Kargman wanted the film to be technically accurate, so in preparation he interviewed countless surgeons and anesthesiologists, read many medical texts and observed a surgery firsthand. The film was even filmed in a lab at a real hospital. Dorie Gray, the actress who plays the patient, portrays her role in a very realistic manner. Her performance really made me feel her pain and unbearable terror. The film is shot in black and white, adding to the very creepy, moody and timeless feel. All of this hard work definitely shows; Anesthesia looks and feels very real.

Anesthesia was an official selection for both the Newport Beach International Film Festival and the Phoenix International Film Festival. It was the winner of the Best Student Short at the San Fernando Valley International Film Festival and a nominee for Best Cinematography and Best Actress at the Terror Film Festival in Philadelphia.

Highly recommended if you get a chance to check it out!

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