Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Inoperable is a Bit of a Hatchet Job: A Film Review

*full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by the film's publicity arm.

**spoiler alert: there are spoilers here.

Director: Christopher Lawrence Chapman.

Writers: Christopher Lawrence Chapman, Jeff Miller.

Cast: Danielle Harris, Katie Keene, Chris Hahn and Jeff Denton.

Inoperable is an indie horror feature, from the filmmakers behind Clowntown (2016). This time director Christopher Lawrence Chapman and writer Jeff Miller set their horror feature in a rundown hospital, while a Category 5 Hurricane causes chaos outside. There are a lot of gruesome sights to be seen in the hospital. Sets look like something from a haunted house amusement ride. But, the film's final flourish misses a beat or two. Protagonist Amy, played by horror icon Danielle Harris, is a bit too unhinged to piece things together. Still, Inoperable is an entertaining watch, set in a scarred psyche.

Inoperable is very much a horror film. There is the moody soundtrack, from composer Jonathan Price. The eerie score offers all sorts of off-kilter sounds. As well, each set offers a new look into another botched surgery. The hospital personnel are a little inept when it comes to keeping patients healthy. There are a number of villainous characters to chase Amy around the dilapidated halls. The hospital personnel capture and kill some of the characters Amy runs into. Though, the horror elements are almost upstaged by the film's mystery. Very little is revealed, storywise, until the film's final moments. Inoperable is set squarely in the horror genre; here, the film's primary goal is terrorizing the viewer.

As for the film's story, it relies centrally on Amy and what she sees in the hospital and in another setting, a traffic jam. Viewers see the film through her eyes as she tries to escape both settings. All of the exits are locked. And, even if she could get outside, Hurricane Sybil would blow her out to the ocean. The hurricane threatens the hospital and much of Florida. Inside, there is a mystery for Amy to solve. How does she escape this nightmare? Astute viewers will notice the number 113 recurring on a license plate, or a timepiece. This is one clue for Amy and her fellow hospital escapees to use. Yet, in between them and escape lay a number of hostile nurses and rogue surgeons. The chances of Amy surviving are minimal.

Gorehounds will find a few decent practical effects here. Thankfully, there is no CGI in this title. The special effects department (Barry Aslinger, David Greathouse, Beki Ingram) creates a few interesting scenarios, mostly involving guerrilla surgery. One man is cut open, through his chest, without aesthetic. He appears less than impressed and a bit helpless as he loses his innards. One of the minor characters, Ryan (Jeff Denton), has his head examined. Ryan is definitely losing his mind, with parts of his brain on a surgeon's table. Other scenarios involve a needlestick or other smaller bits of blood. The visual display is constantly offering more of the macabre.

However, the ending misses its mark. Much of the film plays out very similarly to James Mangold's Identity (2003). Spoiler alert: all of the characters within Identity are part of the protagonist's psyche. Though, some sub-personalities work against Ed (John Cusack) and others help him. The same is true for Amy, within Inoperable; every character within the film is part of Amy's damaged psychological world. Characters Jen (Katie Keene) and Ryan are doing their best to help Amy out of her psychological prison. They act as guides for the central character, offering clues to escape. Amy's sister, Ophelia (Crystal Cordero), shadows her in the halls. She offers her stuffed elephant to help Amy remember. Elephants are known for their strong memories, after all. Also, Ophelia acts as a part of Amy's unconscious, trying to help Amy remember why she is in the hospital. Unfortunately, the scriptwriters throw this plotline away, in the final few scenes. Amy's mental stability is shown to be very questionable, in the final act. If the protagonist is obviously unhinged, what parts of the film can be trusted? The viewers see events through Amy's eyes, ultimately. Amy could have simply walked out of the hospital, after Ophelia's death and following Ryan and Jen's escape, to wrap things up. As it is, the latter scenes conflict with much of the earlier scenes.

Inoperable does what most films cannot; it remains interesting. The film offers lots of action and interaction. As well, a large portion of the plot is kept in mystery. And, viewers will have to pay attention to some of the numbers that pop up, to figure out Amy's escape route. Just released through Video-on-demand, Digital and DVD, this past February 6th, Inoperable will pull most viewers into its convoluted story. And, there is no doubt that Christopher Lawrence Chapman and Jeff Miller are ambitious scriptwriters. Yet, they are just unable to stick the landing, within Inoperable. The result is a bit of a mess, with Amy trapped in her psyche, forever.

Overall: 6.75 out of 10.

*Ophelia is also the name of a character in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. She also chooses self-destruction, like the character in this film.

A trailer for Inoperable is here: An Inoperable Trailer on 28DLA

Actress Danielle Harris (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers & Halloween 5) was interviewed for this film, on 28DLA: A Danielle Harris Interview on Inoperable

Inoperable at Zorya Films: Inoperable at Zorya Films - the Production Co'

Subscribe to 28 Days Later: An Analysis 28 Days Later Analysis Email Subscription