In the movies, psychiatrists tend to get a bad rap. They are often positioned as the enemy, trying to control the behavior and even the minds of protagonists who believe that things are unlikely but true. Things rarely turn out that way in the real world, of course, and here writer / director Billy Senese is trying to restore the balance. In doing so, he establishes a hero that squarely fits into another, older tradition of horror: the dedicated scientist who struggles to hold on to his own sanity when confronted with the limits of his world view. That hero is Dr. Forrester (in excellent form Shane Carruth), a man who has been through his own troubles but remains dedicated to his patients. He's used to coping with odd situations so when a confused man (Jeremy Childs) comes through his ward blundering, seemingly unable to remember anything, he just takes his aside, calms him down and gently begins a conversation that could help him reach a diagnosis. What he doesn't know is that just a few hours ago, after being admitted as a suicide victim, this particular patient was pronounced dead in another part of the hospital and another doctor is searching for him frenziedly.What he can not understand is that his John Doe was actually dead-more than once-and that from the other side something came back with him. While this may seem like just another horror film about possession or a zombie on the surface, it has much more to do with both narrative and thematic, reflecting as it does on the experiences of many people with severe mental illness and those who care for them. This subtext makes some heartbreaking scenes that for people who have lived with such challenges could be tough viewing.While there is a clear element of horror and a sense of threat, it is impossible-as so often in real life-to separate fully from the awareness that this is a needy human being. The unobtrusive but effective development of the backgrounds of character by Senese ensures that the human dimension is always in sight. Although many of the sets here are quite spare and are lit in a deliberately plain manner-the ward was designed to be a calming place-Senese allows himself the occasional directorial flourishing, with a long aerial shot near the end proving to be particularly effective.Where there is a need to restrict the visual elements of the film, he draws on his radio background to make tremendous use of sound. All those odd background hums and banging sounds that echo around hospitals shape the ward's character, and the gradual build-up of noise that viewers may not even be consciously aware of unless listening to it provides a way to connect us with some of the characters ' disordered psychological conditions. Although not everyone will benefit from the slow build and genre-bending approach, this is a smart piece of filmmaking that demonstrates an acute understanding of the horrors present in the worldly world.
The Dead Center
The Dead Center
A hospital psychiatrist's own sanity is pushed to the edge when a frightened amnesiac patient insists that he has died and brought something terrible back from the other side.
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November 2, 2019