Warner Home Video
Cast: Tom Cavanagh, Kathleen York, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs
Extras: Commentary, Shorts, Music Video
"Sublime" is the latest entry in the horror genre from Raw Feed distributed by Warner Brothers on Blu-ray in its unrated uncut version. The film is directed by Tony Krantz (executive producer of television's "24") and written by Eric Jendresen (who won an Emmy for his writing in 'Band Of Brothers').
The film opens provocatively with a surreal vision of a heavenly landscape where a man is falling to the ground while a hauntingly beautiful song plays in the background, it turns out it is a dream from which he awakens as his wife (Kathleen York) explains the age old myth that we would die if we hit the ground in the dream. His name is George Grieves (Tom Cavanaugh), and this is his life.
Approaching 40 is a mixed affair for George Grieves, and it appears as a bittersweet affair with a small handful of his friends and family. They have a party and take a pretentious photograph that references 'The Last Supper'.
The next day George is at a hospital to undergo a routine colonoscopy. He meets with his Iranian practitioner, Dr. Sharazi (Cas Anvar) and they exchange pleasantries and he undergoes what he thinks is a routine procedure, that is until he finds himself in the worst kind of nightmare, the kind he can't wake up from.
After discovering that something went terribly wrong while he was under and he received a surgery not meant for him, things go from bad to worse. We are introduced to a sexy nurse named Zoe (Katherine Cunningham-Eves) who later takes George through a surreal tour of the abandoned East Wing of the hospital, where he is treated to a 'House Of Horrors' style tour of unnecessary surgeries and other visions of medical hell. We also meet a menacing nurse named Mandingo (Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, a.k.a. Freddie Washington from 'Welcome Back Kotter'), whose sole purpose seems to be administering an IV filled with a cloudy white liquid to keep George in a constant hallucinogenic slumber, or so we think. Perhaps Mandingo is simply representing George's fear of Islam?
Filled with all sorts of socio-political meaning and thinly veiled commentary on all sorts of topics from the state of American medical insurance to the wars we are waging in foreign lands to sexual fantasies, distrust and paranoia, this film has many themes it is exploring in the disguise of a "Twilight Zone" type of horror flick, and Tom Cavanaugh gives a great performance of a man coming to grips not only with his life but with all of his worst fears awakened.
Certainly the film isn't to everyone's' taste. The influences of everything from "Jacob's Ladder" to "Apocalypse Now" to any David Lynch film are completely obvious, but I really liked it and found it to be thought-provoking, even if some of its budget constraints kept it from being a little more. Still, it's fun to watch a movie like this just to catch the George Bush jabs; It's as if Michael Moore made a horror film.
The picture itself is definitely affected by the smaller budget. The picture takes on an intentionally grainy appearance, and we definitely notice some banding issues. The dark levels are pretty standard fare and certainly nothing in the transfer jumps out at you noticeably. Still, during the commentary they referenced that they couldn't afford the type of film they wanted and so had to use the matting process, so I'm sure this is as good as it could possibly get, therefore it probably looks just as good or better than it did in the theater. And they still got a decent looking 2.35:1 framed aspect ratio, which is what the makers wanted.
The sound is fine although no new high definition options, just the Dolby Digital 5.1 track available on the standard DVD. That said, the dialogue comes through nicely and especially the music, this film has an excellent soundtrack, from the actual score to the beautiful opening song by Bird York (the recording name for Katherine York, who plays George's wife). All in all a very serviceable track for a very low budget film. Effective, if short of spectacular because of original limitations.
The Special Features are actually quite interesting, starting with a captivating and insightful commentary from the director Tony Krantz and Writer Eric Jendresen in which they reveal even more under the table symbolism than I thought existed, but they also with very straight sounding voices mess with the viewer on several levels by saying some pretty absurd things. They suggest that Tom Cavanagh actually went through an amputation for the film, among other things. You don't know when they are being serious or not, because not once do they break their serious and conversational tones. Pretty interesting commentary.
We also have a very odd segment called 'The Shebeen Josie' which runs about 9 minutes and is exclusive to the Blu-ray. It is simply what appears to be an outtake, although it is interesting because it appears to have nothing at all to do with the final film and seems to be more of a Short. Also exclusive is the music video by Bird York for the excellent song 'Have No Fear', it is such a great tune. These are the only two exclusive features to the Blu-ray, but I think it was actually pretty thoughtful of Warner Brothers to include them.
'Surgical Exorcism' runs about 6 minutes and includes the complete and somewhat cheesy and Sci-Fi Channelesque fake internet segments for the anthropological segments of the film. We also have a couple of trailers for two other Raw Feed Pictures, "Rest Stop" and "Believers", the second of which looks interesting.
"Sublime" is a very interesting project that I found completely entertaining and thought-provoking and at times actually quite funny (intentionally or not), and the Blu-ray version is the version to own, since it is the best looking version but also contains the unrated cut and some extra bonus material.