Have you ever considered how scary hospitals are? Especially if you’re a patient. First of all, you’re injured or sick, which isn’t ideal. On top of that, you have no freedom, no autonomy. Plus, you’re confined to a very small space, surrounded by strangers who all know more than you about what’s going on. And you have to trust that all these strangers, who all have control over your life, have your best interest at heart. That anxiety is at the heart of writer/director Peter Daskaloff’s horror-thriller Antidote.
Sharyn (Ashlynn Yennie) wakes up one day in terrible pain. Her concerned husband rushes her to the hospital, where they discover she will need an emergency appendectomy. When she awakens from this procedure, she is in a different hospital and isn’t allowed to leave. Slowly, Sharyn discovers the other patients are not only being regularly and brutally tortured but are then given a miracle medicine that cures them fully in a matter of days. Determined to escape, she is thwarted time and again by the sadistic staff of this hellish hospital. With no other options, she tries to learn the secret of her captors.
Antidote is a claustrophobic, gory, micro-budgeted flick that is better than it has any right to be but still suffers from a host of problems. The acting is uneven, the sound is spotty, and the limited resources become painfully apparent in the third act. Despite all that, I found myself really enjoying the film. Daskaloff manages to create a sense of tension and dread for less than the catering budget of Midsommar. He is remarkably restrained with jump scares and gore, allowing the tension to build before springing it on you. The filmmaker lets the horror scenes breathe instead of cramming as many bloody mutilations as possible into each frame. This, in my opinion, just makes each sequence of bloody carnage that much more effective.
“…Sharyn discovers the other patients are…being regularly and brutally tortured…”
The third act twist won’t shock anyone who remembers even a little of their high school Latin or has read even a smidge of Renaissance Italian poetry. (What’s that? They don’t teach Latin in school anymore? Most people don’t care about Renaissance Italian poetry? I’m just being a pretentious d!*khead? This bit has gone on for too long? Gotcha.) The twist won’t be a surprise to most people who have spent any time watching horror films. (Is that better?) But, it really isn’t the point here. Where the film shines is in creating an oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere and tapping into that primal fear and helplessness that comes (at no extra charge) with every hospital visit.
Though as much as I enjoyed Antidote, I seem to have the minority opinion. This movie hasn’t done well with other critics. Yes, it has several problems, but I can’t understand the vitriol from some other reviewers until I hit the director’s IMDb page. I feel the other reviewers might be acting a tad snobbish to the auteur who brought us such classics as 1993’s Sex and the Single Alien AND its 2015 reboot.
However, taken on its own merits, Antidote is a credible effort. I would love to see what Mr. Daskaloff might create with a decent budget. If you get a chance, I recommend you check this one out.
"…shines...in creating an oppressive, claustrophobic atmosphere..."