Sublime DVD: Review By Dodd

The storyline is one wild ride through hospital hell.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
The storyline is one wild ride through hospital hell.
THE BAD
A few excessive scenes make this film drag at times.
THE FEATURE
When it comes to characterizing my ideal film, I tend to prefer ones that mess with my mind and leave me feeling bewildered and abandoned by the end. Some may call this masochistic, but I call it hungry for a challenge. There are a great many films out there that are straight-forward and easy to decode, and I find nothing wrong with these. However, a movie that requires its audience to think is usually a demonstration of filmmakers who put their thoughts deep into a film so that the audience can do the same. It is even a great exercise for Alzheimer's prevention! With this being said, one of the latest mind-trips to hit screens is the direct-to-DVD release Sublime.

As the title suggests Sublime is a film that tries to be sublime with plot twists that transcend common thought, and it sometimes succeeds at doing this. We begin by meeting our main character George Grieves (Tom Cavanaugh, fresh off of the acclaimed series Ed). George appears to be going through somewhat of a midlife crisis. After just turning 40, he is having bizarre dreams to which he cannot ascribe meaning. He is also uneasy about the inevitable process of growing older.

Like many who turn 40, George participates in a renowned rite of passage: receiving a colonoscopy. The appointment begins as a normal in-patient/out-patient procedure, but does not end so normally. George wakes up in a hospital bed covered in a cold sweat, with a stitched incision on his stomach, and this is only the beginning of the madness. A sketchy orderly named Mandingo (Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs) keeps hooking him up to an IV full of a foggy liquid, which makes him sleep. Between flashbacks in his sleep of his 40th birthday, George wakes up to discover horrifying revelations that involve butchery, adultery, bigotry, a home-shopping network, lesbianism, and murder.

As evidenced by the previous sentence, Sublime is an enigmatic thriller that dares to cram so much into its two-hour runtime, and it manages to succeed at this. The movie dishes out one horrific scenario after another. I didn't understand the meaning of these things, yet I wasn't complaining. What George experiences in this film is pandemonium, and I could feel his pain and puzzlement every step of the way. This goes without mentioning that some of these moments are effectively frightening, and touch upon various fears of the upper-class, white male human psyche.

For the most part, Sublime is a solid piece of work. It only suffers from excessiveness. Perhaps this is from inserted footage that makes it unrated (was anyone even able to see the R version as a basis for comparison?). Just when it would have me successfully engaged, Sublime would throw in a drawn-out and insignificant scene. This includes a torture scene that goes from initially terrifying, to dull. This is a film that requires more succinctness from its filmmakers. The complex premise is already there with a satisfying conclusion that explains the Hell that this character is in. However, Sublime is a 90-minute film trapped in the structure of a 2-hour film.
THE EXTRAS
Interviews

The DVD contains two separate interviews with director Tony Krantz and writer Erik Jenderson. I was surprised at just how raw these interviews were while watching stage hands interrupt Jenderson to fiddle with his lavaliere microphone. Other than these glitches, the interviews are solid companion pieces to the film. These television veterans do not are not bashful when they explain what the film means to them, and the anxieties that the script conveys to its viewers.

Commentary

Jenderson and Krantz return for this commentary track. As evidenced by their interviews, these guys are quite loquacious. They are truly excited about the film they have made, and are prepared with thoughts for every chapter. Some of their comments are brought to the surface in the interviews, but I still must suggest this for fans of the film.

Surgical Exorcism

I have never been a big fan of these extra features. At one point in the film, George's son watches a video on the Internet of a professor performing surgical exorcism. This is the video in its entirety....and its pointlessness.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen. Director Tony Krantz has long worked in television, and I could see the aesthetic in his film. While just as entertaining as any cinematic thriller, watching Sublime is like watching a Stephen King mini-series. There is something about the coloration and hues that screams made-for-TV, but the unrated material speaks for itself.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital 5.1. The music and sound seem more composed for a television program than a film just like the picture quality. This is not a negative thing, but I do not think it will play as well with Dolby as other films may.
THE PACKAGE
Standard DVD keep case. The case also comes packaged in a slip sleeve with cover art identical to the case. The front cover illustrates a bare back tattooed with tree branches, with a bloody-gloved hand holding garden shears. Only seeing the film can explain how these things are related.
THE FINAL WORD
I get a large pile of straight-to-video horror films, and most of them stink to high heaven. After seeing Sublime I was glad to see that quality entertainment does exist in the DVD market. The film is far from being a masterpiece, but it is supported by a crafty screenplay and a convincing performance from Tom Cavanaugh. This is a dirty, confusing film that made me think, and also left me with a phobia of going to the hospital. Sublime is a definite rental. I will even go so far to say that avid horror fans will want to buy this.

Questions? Comments? Just want to talk movies? Drop me a line at dodd@movieweb.com

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