‘Disquiet’ comes to the table with a decent, though not innovative, premise. What’s going on in the mind of coma patients? And what if it’s terrifying? Sam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a terrible husband building a tech startup while ignoring his wife who is pregnant with their first child. Right off the bat he gets into an accident with a drunk driver while answering a work call and is hospitalized in a coma. We see Sam wake up to a hospital empty of doctors, nurses, or really anyone helpful, but there are a handful of other patients who either want to hurt him or seem to be in the same boat. If it sounds like the story gets chaotic and muddled quickly, that’s because it does. It feels like something you channel surfed into the middle of on a free to air station on a Saturday afternoon…in 2001.
I want to tell you that it’s not all bad, but certainly a lot of it is not good. The characters are completely underdeveloped leaving decent actors looking like they are having a bad first day on the job. Obviously writer/director Michael Winnick was working on a tight budget here, so I can give some leeway to an extent, but here’s the thing: the parts that usually cost a lot, the effects and scares, were actually the best part! The haunted, faceless doctors and orderlies were terrifying! The menacing victims of unfortunate cosmetic surgery giving chase on all fours was a frightening moment! Developing your characters a little and subverting stereotypes should be free, but apparently was a cost too high for this production.
If you’ve watched the trailer it probably won’t be news to you that the story here is basically a purgatory allegory. There’s a little more to it than that, but in the interest of not spoiling it I’ll keep it basic. Those in the hospital are either deciding which way to go, so to speak, or attempting to push the needle on those decisions for the patients one way or the other. The way the film cuts back and forth between the activities of the inescapable hospital and the stories that lead to the folks getting there was an interesting plot device but became a little repetitive. I also need to point out that while none of the characters were properly developed, the characters who didn’t get back stories, at all, were the women. Monica (Elyse Levesque) is the only female patient and all we get to know about her is that she was there for breast augmentation surgery. She immediately flirts with and offers herself to Sam moments after they meet (we never even see them get each other’s names) while they are trying to escape with their lives. The other female inhabitant of the hospital, Lilith (Rachelle Goulding), who goes by Lily (but you see what they did there), is temporarily helpful before ultimately being painted as a demon temptress. Finally, Sam’s wife Sarah (Anita Brown), is simply a background character in his life to nag him about working too much and bear his child while being cheated on. The misogyny in the writing of these characters is so unforgivable that I honestly can’t believe this even got made for the year 2023.
‘Disquiet’ will be in select theaters, on digital, and on demand on February 10, 2023.
REVIEW: ‘Disquiet’ Has Some Good Scares But No Character Development