The horror genre doesn’t really need any new takes on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but once in a while, something unique comes along that reminds us how rich with possibilities that original text is. As was the case with Lucky McKee’s lurid, lonesome love story May (2002), Philip Chidel’s Subject Two – a modern Frankenstein tale that takes place in the isolated snowy mountains of Aspen, Colorado – takes some of its cues from Shelley’s seminal work, but the bulk are drawn from a fresh vision that’s entirely his own.
12,000 feet above sea level, Dr. Franklin Vick has been conducting highly unethical research in the field of, well, resurrection. After his first subject fails him, he calls upon troubled, migraine-plagued med student Adam Smith to assist in furthering his "practical" studies, which involve killing and reviving Adam over and over and over again. After being strangled, stabbed, poisoned and shot, Adam is doing fine, his migraines have disappeared and his wounds are healing at an astonishing rate. But evidently dying has side effects, and as Adam begins to suffer from his, the good doctor finds disturbing methods of addressing them, methods that slowly turn Adam into a lifeless perversion of science incapable of feeling any of the sensations that remind us we’re alive… and human.
Shot entirely on location in a rustic cabin eight miles from civilization with a crew of nine and no running water or electricity, Subject Two is an ambitious and thoughtful rumination on the age-old dangers of man playing god. Its organic setting is a unique juxtaposition for the complexities of modern medical science – cryonics, nanotechnology and mysterious revival serums. An imposing musical score by Erik Godal lends to the film’s haunting atmosphere of cold, inescapable dread. Chidel’s second feature (following the 1999 comedy Far from Bismark) is a suspenseful thriller clearly removed from the gothic grandeur of Shelley’s novel or the stylized, monster-driven theatrics of James Whale’s Universal classic. Rather, it’s a character-driven slow burn punctuated by sudden acts of violence that builds up, like so much icy snow, to a moving twist ending designed to leave audiences saddened instead of shocked.
Hosted by Director Philip Chidel
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Sundance 2006
WINNER: Audience Award,Silver Lake Film Festival
WINNER: Best Feature, Sci-Fi-London Film Festival
Director: Philip Chidel
Screenplay: Philip Chidel
Cast: Christian Oliver, Dean Stapleton, Courtney Mace
Producers: Philip Chidel, Christian Oliver, Dean Stapleton
Distributor: First Look Features