Monday, June 9, 2008
Four women awake in a drab holding cell, with nothing but wire and opaque paper walls separating them from masked nurses dressed all in white that scurry outside. They remember nothing of their past lives, not even their names, which is why their handy medical bracelets come in handy. The women discover their names are Katherine (the levelheaded one), Natasha (the tough one), Jane (the mousy one) and Elaine (the weepy one). None of them know how or why they are there and when they meet Dr. Murdoch and his partner (known only as the “Handsome Man”), neither shed any light on the situation.
The women are soon visited by a nightly intruder, known only as the Surgeon, who carves numbers into their skin while they sleep. Pretty soon the women figure out that the numbers signify what time they are scheduled to die…
What kind of sick experiments is Dr. Murdoch subjecting them to? What is their purpose? And can they survive long enough to get answers to these questions?
Amber Pictures wowed me before with their fun vamp flick The Witches Hammer and have returned with other solid, yet very different, film. Bane has a much more sci-fi feel than The Witches Hammer. It begins as a psychological horror film about four women stuck in a room (think Saw, Cube, etc.) but surprises with its sci-fi back story and plentiful gore.
The set design is rather impressive, with the medical facility where the women are being held feeling very claustrophobic and disorienting. When an escape is attempted, the escapee wanders the twisting and turning halls, with the small spaces make you feel constrained and hopeless. Kudos should be given to director James Eaves (who also wrote the script) for crafting such an effectively “imprisoned” feeling with the film’s visuals. Most of the film takes place within the holding cell where the women are kept (probably due to the small budget), but even though it is a small space, it works extremely well.
The acting is also top-notch, with all of the women giving stellar performances. Sophia Dawnay (Katherine), Tina Barnes (Natasha), Lisa Devlin (Jane) and Sylvia Robson (Elaine) all did a tremendous job. Each and every one of them was believable, without any of the over or under-acting usually found in low-budget films. Daniel Jordan (Dr. Murdoch) and Jonathan Sidgwick (the “Handsome Man”) were perfectly sadistic and sympathetic as the scientists behind the experiment.
The special effects were very impressive for a film with a small budget! The Surgeon paints the walls red with blood and the deaths are all very realistic and extremely gory! There are only four girls, though, so you can imagine that, unfortunately, the body count isn’t that high.
The story, written by James Eaves, is the one point of the film that runs into a bit of trouble. The explanation we are given for the experiment is adequate at first, but when you start thinking about it, it is never specified why four girls were needed or even why all their memories needed to be erased. The build-up is also too slow, with the Surgeon not showing up until at least 45 minutes to an hour into the film. If the women’s memories were erased, there wasn’t much characterization that could happen in this span of time, right? So the film starts off dragging, and when the killings start it feels like its suddenly switched gears and hopped genres to a bloody slasher flick. From there it jumps yet again to sci-fi territory (you’ll have to watch it and see how, but I’ll tell you that extraterrestrials are involved), which leaves the viewer a bit befuddled.
Still, despite the problems with plot and consistency, Bane is a solid effort by Amber Pictures. Bane blends psychological horrors, slasher sensibilities and a sci-fi story to make an entertaining (though uneven) film.
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