Husband-wife team of veteran helmer John Hancock and scripter Dorothy Tristan ("Weeds") has concocted a psychological drama cum genteel shocker that's long on ambition and short on delivery.

Husband-wife team of veteran helmer John Hancock and scripter Dorothy Tristan (“Weeds”) has concocted a psychological drama cum genteel shocker that’s long on ambition and short on delivery. Vaguely “Misery”-derived premise has animation director traveling by snowmobile detained by two grotesque aging sisters who cannibalize unwary visitors. Hero emerges unscathed but obsessed, searching out the unknowing progeny of younger twisted sister. Uncompelling lead, low-budget approximations of big studio look, and stolidly restrained feel definitely don’t jibe with current horror demographics, though bottom-line professionalism may secure pic a cable niche.

Loony sister’s grown-up, given-up-for-adoption daughter seems normal enough, but legacy of evil has apparently skipped a generation — her teenage son beats Mom up, tortures raccoons and pops his pimples and eats the pus, the latter by far the greatest transgression to judge by our sensitive hero’s averted face. Script makes vague stabs at relating trauma to art, but these aspirations are sunk by muddy psychology and by-rote genre nods: a screening of the past-haunted cartoon director’s latest opus, wherein mad sisters figure prominently as flying harpies, only serves to usher in an unsurprising “she isn’t really dead!” finale.

Suspended Animation

Production

A Filmacres production. Produced by Robert J. Hiler, John Hancock. Executive producer, Carey Westberg. Co-producers, Dean Jacobson, Ken Kitch. Directed by John Hancock. Screenplay, Dorothy Tristan.

Crew

Camera (color, HDV), Misha Suslov; editor, Dennis O'Connor; music, Angelo Badalementi; music supervisor, Chris Ussery; production designer, Don Jacobson; costume designer, Richard Donnelly. Reviewed at Hamptons Film Festival (World Cinema), Oct. 19, 2002. Running time: 114 MIN.

With

Alex McArthur, Laura Esterman, Sage Allen, Rebecca Harrell, Maria Cina, Fred Meyers.
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