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Admitted to a hospital for a routine, minimally invasive procedure, George Grieves (Tom Cavanagh) discovers that his circumstances are much more serious and complicated than originally expected. Trapped in the increasingly bizarre and dangerous world of Mt. Abaddon Hospital, George tries to maintain his sanity while uncovering the truth behind the growing number of medical misdeeds happening within the institution's East Ward. As his own fears begin to manifest all around him, he learns that this is not a place where people come to get better... this is a hospital where people come to die.
For more about Sublime and the Sublime Blu-ray release, see Sublime Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on May 23, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Cavanagh, Katherine Cunningham-Eves, Kathleen York, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs
Director: Tony Krantz
» See full cast & crew
Sublime Blu-ray Review
There's no truth in advertising with the title of this straight to video horror flick.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, May 23, 2010
Most people don't exactly like visits to the hospital, whether it's a quick check up with your physician or something more dramatic. That seemingly innate fear certainly seems like fertile ground for a thriller, where a patient's fear magnifies and explodes into a near hallucinogenic fury of horror and terror. Unfortunately the straight to video release Sublime never even remotely approaches the level of its title, mining disturbing images of body parts being severed as the gist of most of its shock value. If its putative "twist" is at least intellectually interesting, if not ultimately very satisfying, getting to that moment offers a lot of pretentious scurrying about as newly minted forty year old George Grieves (Tom Cavanagh of television'sEd and Smithsonian specials) attempts to figure out what has gone horribly, horribly awry after his supposed routine colonoscopy.
Sublime (rendered Uncut in this Blu-ray iteration) starts out promisingly enough, with a cool looking dreamscape in which George finds himself falling, falling, only to awake slightly panic stricken before he smacks down hard on his dream laden turf. That of course leads to a discussion between him and his wife, Jenny (Kathleen "Bird" York), about how if you die in your dreams, you die in real life. Anyone with half a brain for why certain things are discussed in films already is probably guessing at least part of Sublime's ostensible "surprise" ending. George celebrates his 40th birthday by preparing for his colonscopy. If any of you have been through this "cleansing" ritual (which is, in fact, usually done on your 50th birthday, but maybe George was just precocious), it seems rather odd that someone would choose a day of feasting, reveling and yummy chocolate cake to consume vast quantities of laxatives and relegate themselves to drinking Gatorade. Alas, that's the least of Sublime's logic problems.
The next day, George checks in to Mt. Abbadon Hospital. For you nascent etymologists in the audience, Sublime delights in these not very veiled Biblical references. Abbadon is the King of Destruction in the Book of Revelation. Later on in the film we get a passing reference to Sheitan, the Chaldean version of that ultimate bad boy, Satan. Even George's last name hints at the mournful ethos this film espouses. Unfortunately, it's the audience that undergoes the most "grieving," as the film takes an admittedly interesting idea and then plays it for nothing other than cheap shots as George slowly finds himself being hacked to pieces by mysterious forces.
For those few of you who may have an actual interest is seeing Sublime, I'll try to refrain from posting any real spoilers, but the film's main conceit has been trod by any number of previous pieces, going back to the Oscar winning short (later broadcast on The Twilight Zone), An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge to more recent fare like Jacob's Ladder. What Sublime does is make the conceit more bloody and graphic, supposedly leading to greater shock value. While that may be true, it's the same sort of cheat that modern filmmakers often revert to with quick cuts (no pun intended, considering Sublime's penchant for limb separation) and loud low frequency effects on the soundtrack. Certainly it gives the viewer a jolt, but after that adrenaline rush, we're left to wonder what all the fuss is about.
Cavanagh has proven himself to be an extremely amiable, low key performer. He brings that same casual approach to George, which works both for and against the film. While his "Everyman" demeanor certainly helps to create empathy, it also tends to rob the film of some of its visceral impact, as he never rises to the level of hysteria needed to really make the film's conceit seem real. Instead, he seems like a really nice guy caught in a hellacious hospital where people are intent on doing him harm. Ho hum.
As George's nightmare becomes more enveloping, there are some interesting sidebars to the main story (two of which are reproduced in toto in the extras), as George catches snippets of various strange programs on the hospital television. One of these, an absolutely hilarious (and one hopes intentionally so) interchange between a suburban housewife and a demon plays like something out of a Christopher Guest movie. It momentarily kicks Sublime into a whole new stratosphere. If the whole movie had been played for laughs like this, it might have been a minor classic. As it is, it's a lot of blood and guts, signifying nothing.
Sublime Blu-ray, Video Quality
Sublime (Uncut) oozes onto Blu-ray with a merely okay VC-1 transfer in 1080p and a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Colors are suitably robust and lifelike, with lots of deeply saturated red in the gorier moments, and detail is passably good a lot of the time, but the overall film has a gauzy soft and overly grainy look that doesn't sit well with its subject matter. The Blu-ray's superior resolution also points out the cheaper aspects of the film, as in the patently fake, if kind of cool looking, opening dream sequence. Contrast is lacking, especially in the many darker moments, and blacks, while not severely crushed, never really show any subtle gradations. This is a slight step up, sharpness wise, from an SD-DVD, but certainly not much of one.
Sublime Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There's really no "there" there in this reasonable enough standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. While dialogue and effects are all clear, and the underscore well reproduced, there's a really surprising lack of surround activity throughout the film, even in the more over the top horror moments. Part of this may be due to the film's main conceit (which I'm trying like the Dickens not to over elaborate about), but even typical ambient noises like the hallway sounds in the hospital seem resolutely anchored to the front channels, and often to the center channel at that. This straight to video release may simply not have had the budget to prepare a really immersive soundtrack. This plays like a reasonably well done television episode. Taken at that level, it's fine. For a high def aficionado, it's sadly lacking.
Sublime Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The commentary by director Tony Krantz and writer Erik Jendresen was fitfully entertaining, but was a little too chatty for my tastes. Much better are the complete, unedited "television shows" George catches in the hospital (both in SD), including the very funny The Shebeen Josie (9:47) with the Jane Lynch-esque housewife interacting with the demon, and the somewhat disturbing Surgical Exorcism (5:25), showing a supposed doctor extricating a "demon" from a Peruvian patient. "Bird" York, who gained an Oscar nomination for her work on Crash's score, also is featured in a music video for the song "Have No Fear." Trailers round out the supplements.
Sublime Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Sublime sports an interesting, if not exactly innovative, premise, but it relies too much on shock value and not enough on the psychological underpinnings of the main character's fears. If you like weird, quasi-meaningful literary and Biblical allusions, and a fair amount of blood and gore, this might be worth an evening's rental. Otherwise, skip it.
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