Even if it overplays its ghoulish central concept, "Subject Two" honorably reps the neglected cerebral horror sub-genre. As basic as the set-up is -- a disillusioned med student falls into the clutches of a new kind of Dr. Frankenstein -- the film's depiction of what living as a human being actually means resonates strongly.

Even if it overplays its ghoulish central concept, “Subject Two” honorably reps the neglected cerebral horror sub-genre. As basic as the set-up is — a disillusioned med student falls into the clutches of a new kind of Dr. Frankenstein — the film’s depiction of what living as a human being actually means resonates strongly. Not startling or shocking enough as a pure midnight programmer, pic has minor theatrical and broader vid potential as an alternative to the usual horror dose.

Lured to a remote Rocky Mountain outpost on the promise of a job, Adam (Christian Oliver) must hike in snow shoes to reach the lodge of Dr. Vick (Dean Stapleton). Assuming he’s there to assist, Adam quickly becomes Vick’s subject (his second, after a first botched try) in a bizarre experiment combining cryogenics, serums, various tubes and enough blood to keep the queasy on edge. Some weariness arises from doc having to “kill” and then revive Adam many times, all in the name of perfecting his experiment. But filmmaker Philip Chidel’s clever plot twists and decoys keep both the story and the science intriguing.

Subject Two

Production

A Cardiac Pictures and Chabo Films presentation. (International sales: Jeff Dowd & Associates, Los Angeles.) Produced by Philip Chidel, Dean Stapleton, Christian Oliver. Directed, written, edited by Philip Chidel.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Rich Confalone; music, Erik Godal; special effects makeup, Joann Gross. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight), Jan. 21, 2006. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Christian Oliver, Dean Stapleton, Courtney Mace, Jurgen Jones, Thomas Buesch.
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