Animator Thomas Kempton gets more than he bargained for when a snowmobile trip turns to terror in the wilds of Northern Michigan. Held prisoner by two cannibalistic sisters who try ...
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Animator Thomas Kempton gets more than he bargained for when a snowmobile trip turns to terror in the wilds of Northern Michigan. Held prisoner by two cannibalistic sisters who try unsuccessfully to add him to their long list of victims, Tom becomes obsessed with tracking down his captor's long lost daughter. The ensuing drama becomes perfect material for Tom's latest Hollywood screenplay, inevitably luring one cannibal sister back to her original prey.Written by
This review by critic Andrew Tallackson appeared in The News-Dispatch
During the early passages of John Hancock's `Suspended Animation,' you think you've got it figured out: It's `Deliverance' meets `Misery.' But the pleasure in experiencing `Suspended Animation' comes from the way Hancock and his screenwriter, wife Dorothy Tristan, throw you a curveball, taking the film somewhere unexpected. If the first half of `Suspended Animation' reveals the very nature of evil, then the second act is about the obsession with it. Hancock and Tristan show how, for some, closure can't be reached until the evil that fuels relentless nightmares is confronted and dissected. The film stars Alex McArthur as Tom Kempton, a Hollywood animator with a beautiful wife, Hilary (Hancock veteran Rebecca Harrell), a stunning home, but a somewhat stalled career. Needing a vacation, Tom heads to northern Michigan for a snowmobile trip with two buddies, Jack (Dan Riordan) and Cliff (Jeff Puckett), but the excursion takes an unexpected detour when Tom's snowmobile crashes in the forest. Tom stops by a nearby cabin for help, only to fall into a trap set by two deadly serial-killer sisters, Vanessa (Laura Esterman) and Ann (Sage Allen) Boulette. They've killed before and are ready to make Tom their latest victim. Hancock and Tristan take almost fiendish delight in seeing how far they can go to make audiences squirm here, particularly since sharp objects are lying about, along with jars containing parts of the human anatomy no man would like removed. Tom survives the ordeal - after a dynamite snowmobile chase that features not just an ax, but an avalanche - but can't let go of what happened to him. He meets the sisters' brother, Philip (J.E. Freeman), who is doing time in jail, then tracks down the daughter of one of the sisters, Clara (Maria Cina), a waitress and aspiring actress whose son, Sandor (Fred Meyers), may have picked up a few nasty habits from his disturbed relatives. For all its squeamish moments, `Suspended Animation' becomes a fascinating glimpse into depravity and insanity. A bizarre, unsettling dynamic unfolds between the Boulettes, who foster a considerably warped notion of the concept of `family.' That leads to an impressively restrained, surprisingly quiet finale, where Tom witnesses the tragedy of the Boulette family unfold before him, even as his life, and that of his wife, are in danger. McArthur is quite good; `Suspended Animation,' however, belongs to the ladies. Esterman and Allen, as the two sisters, create a dangerous, at times hilariously unstable team. You're never sure when the two might explode, while Esterman, later on, takes Vanessa to another level, revealing a desperation that is sad and pathetic. Cina is a find. Her performance is so natural, so unassuming, it doesn't come across as acting. She's the most sympathetic character, the heart and soul of the film. `Suspended Animation' is one of the creepier films in some time, a superb example of taking a formula story and transforming it into the unexpected. Rating: 3 stars
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