A severely injured man wakes up on a hospital gurney, heavily bandaged in blood soaked bandages. He has no memory of what happened to him or how he got there. He panics, pulling tubes from his body and drags himself from the room to the hallway outside. He will not get far before a man in hospital scrubs will find him. He is later woken by woman strapped to a gurney beside him. She is also bandaged up and has no memory of who she is or how she got there. However they will soon discover that they are under the care of sadistic caretaker. Only he knows the answers as to their real identities. They may live long enough to find out who they really are.
As the two patients recover under the care of this sadistic caretaker they are trying to remember who they are and find a way to escape. Specifically during moments of horror and distress by the hands of the caretaker they do experience flashbacks of what may have happened to them or hints of who they are. The story and screenplay from Chuck McCue and Jules Vincent, their first stab at a feature length film, is presented in such a way you wonder if the two patients were somehow connected to each toher before they woke up strapped to gurneys in an abandoned hospital.
When the story calls upon a generous helping of gore the work from Kenji Rodriquez Tanamachi ifs top shelf stuff. It needs to be said though that the balance of horror favors more towards unsettling moments in the film than outright terrifying ones. Alive is not especially scary but we believe the real entertainment comes from Angus Macfadyen's (Braveheart and Equilibrium) performance.
As the sadistic caretaker in Rob Grant's horror thriller, Macfadyen is, as expected, wonderful as the villain. So good it presents a minor issue. Because he is so good, so deceptively benevolent with an underlying menace, when he is not on screen it is a noticeable absence. He truly is the films greatest asset.
We do have a more pressing concern about Alive though. We thought that it was a perfectly fine and tense horror thriller but it gets sideswiped by a bizarre turn of events at the very end. What happens is that we get one of those ‘Here were the clues all along, now that you look at them in this new and monstrous context, this sudden direction change we have taken makes sense this way as well’ moments.
Yes it is an unexpected turn and it may be commended for that by others but for us it feels like a final gasp to make Alive more interesting, even more horrific, than it really needed to be. Was there a lack of trust in the conventional ending we were lead to believe was coming? Was it not horror enough? Or was it all just an exercise in viewer manipulation, pulling the wool over our eyes until this unfortunate endgame reveal?
If this final push for more horror were not so out if left field it may have worked. It does not help its case when the scene is hampered with bad acting from supporting actors and there is a very questionable timeline issue going on here. Then there is a dumb visual joke that is too on-the-nose to be funny. Meant to hammer the point home before the screen cuts to black the joke just elicits a final groan of discouragement.
Alive was a good horror thriller with a hook that did not need a hook. We can only see it as poor decision making to take this wild turn at the end. Ends up it kills Alive, dead.