Suspended Animation (2001) Poster

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I guess it runs in the family.
lost-in-limbo20 June 2006
Tom is a Hollywood animator who heads out on a snow trip with some pals. Where he crashes his snowmobile and seeks refuge from two sisters, who just happen to be cannibals. But before he becomes dinner, his pals find him and rescue from this horror; but the police only find one of the bodies. 3 months later, Tom plans to make an animated feature about his experience and he learns that the police have discovered the body of the missing sister. But this ordeal has hit him so hard that now he's truly obsessed about the sister that he learns that she had a daughter who she gave up. Which she just happens to be an aspiring actress. So through work-related meetings he becomes good friends with her. He gladly finds out she has no idea about her real mother and his horrific incident, although he realises her teenage son has inherited his grandmother's evil frame of mind.

Oh, what torture! Well, some scenes and dialogues were excruciating, but actually, I didn't think the flick was too bad, but again it was far from good. The fundamental problem was that it's overlong and there's just too much on the plate to congest. I found this independent flick an intriguing attempt in the thriller foray and there's some skill behind the camera, but the unbalanced material isn't a particularly successful mix. After what I thought was an okay opening 40-minutes that simply revisits "Misery" with its icy and isolated backdrop and a pair of kooky cannibalistic sisters, it just loses steam. The mid-section is very stodgy - by virtually becoming more of a character study involving the survivor Tom becoming infatuated by this whole ordeal and wanting to make something out of it by getting involved in one 'insane' family. It's one really strange fixation! But during this chewy period I found the story's progression rather colourless and the continuity lacking. So many details that are brought up are left unexplained or simply pushed aside. While, the dry dialogues really do stretch creditability and sometimes ramble on pointlessly. Although, a little of the sardonic humour helps a bit. The over-exaggerated climax isn't remotely surprising, but the constant use of three different endings was just too contrived. Every time I thought it was finished, something else was tacked onto the following scene.

Now the performances would fit right into a soap opera… say like "Passions". Pretty scratchy and at times rather hokey was the acting. Alex McArthur gives an understated performance, but Maria Cina as the daughter Clara Hansen is surprisingly good. Fred Meyers as the teenage brat Sandor Hansen is simply laughable with his angst and blimey; he has one real nasty habit. Angelo Badalamenti's score is extremely harrowing by playing around with many sequences and it gives the film a touch of elegance. The direction by John D. Hancock I could give the cold shoulder, but I thought he done an adequate job with what he had to work with. He staged one or two suspenseful and minor grisly scenes, despite most of it be telegraphed. But more often you could say I found it hard going and terribly cliché-ridden to be entirely effective entertainment.

"Suspended Animation" takes on a systematic pattern that has a decent looking production, but the material is pretty much a scramble and saps most of the suspense right out of it.
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John Hancock sent me a copy of this movie, and that's about the only good thing I can say about it...
MovieAddict201628 November 2003
I received a copy of "Suspended Animation" in the mail earlier this week. It was postmarked from a company in New York, with attached sheets of paper naming the cast and crew, and an interview with the director, John D. Hancock, from Phantom magazine.

I'm still not quite sure why I was sent a copy, and I'm not really that sure how I was sent a copy. I don't have any mailing address on my Website, and I don't have it listed publicly on the Internet. I can only assume the DVD was given to me so that I could review the film. But it's a puzzling affair of how that company in New York got my address.

The movie was filmed in 2001 and given a limited theatrical release in October of 2003. I believe that the DVD I received is a preview DVD of what will hit stores some time in 2004. Perhaps the company in New York thought I'd review the DVD, too? I suppose I can, although there's nothing to review -- it has fine quality and sound, basic picture menus, and a single theatrical trailer. It probably doesn't need much more.

The film is about an animator named Tom Kempton (Alex McArthur), and his fascination with his own kidnapper. It all starts when Tom and his buddies are out on their snowmobiles during winter. Tom gets behind and flips his snowmobile when he's trying to catch up; he seeks shelter in a nearby log cabin, which is home to a pair of strange sisters -- one rather obese and the other frail and sickly. They slip Tom a drug and he wakes up tied to a chair. It's then that he realizes the sisters are cannibals, and that they plan to make him their next meal.

After making a daring escape with the help of his friends, Tom finds himself unable to move on with his life. He can't think of anything but the small sister, Vanessa, who kidnapped him and chopped off his pinky finger (which was successfully re-attached, or so I can only assume). Tom hunts down Vanessa's adopted child, draws her as a cartoon out of fascination, and eventually fights and helps murder her serial killer son, Sandor (Fred Meyers), who has a pimple-popping scene so stomach-turning it could rival the most gruesome horror films.

The only thing worse than the killer getting up one last time for another scare is the two-killer theory. Here, it's a three-killer theory. There's a surprise twist at the end that leaves open one of three options: the remaining killer is one of the sisters, back from their graves, their brother, or Vanessa's daughter. And, if you're enough of a horror freak, you may even think it's Sandor coming back from the grave.

I've got to say that though the surprise ending didn't surprise me, I was expecting something else to happen. I expected something much cleverer and much more startling than what did happen at the end. I had worked out a complex theory of who the real killer might be and it never happened. By the time the credits started to roll, I wasn't quite sure what the message of the film was. First it starts out as a sort of "Misery Redux," then it turns into "Deliverance" on snowmobiles, then it turns into "Single White Female," then it turns into "Psycho," then it turns into nothing. Is the point that the gene for wanting to kill people runs in families? Is it that you should not dig deeper into matters already resolved? Or is it just a wandering horror-thriller that isn't sure what it wants to be?

The movie was penned by Dorothy Tristan, John Hancock's wife. It's based on her novel, which I have never heard of -- and now I can understand why. I'd like to give "Suspended Animation" a good review because I enjoyed the beginning as a sort of remake of "Misery," and I feel bad picking on a movie sent to me in hopes I would do the opposite. But if I followed that, it would be nothing but a bribe.

I won't be totally unkind to the movie. John Hancock, the man behind Robert De Niro's "Bang the Drums Slowly" and the cult family classic "Prancer" (also very dark), directs well -- for what it's worth. And to be fair, "Suspended Animation" has a few interesting scenes, but the casting of Alex McArthur never helps much, and the flimsy script only harms what could have been a really tense and scary movie.

2.5/5 stars.
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Obsession and Injustice
claudio_carvalho7 August 2007
While traveling to fish in a frozen lake with two friends, the director of animated movie Thomas Kempton (Alex McArthur) loses his backpack and returns alone seeking it in the track. However, he has an accident with his vehicle and asks for help to two locals, the insane cannibalistic sisters Vanessa Boulette (Laura Esterman) and Ann Boulette (Sage Allen), and he is abducted by them. Later their friends kill Ann and rescues Thomas, but they are chased by Vanessa in her snowmobile. After an avalanche, Vanessa is considered dead by the law enforcement, but Thomas becomes obsessed by her life, tracking down her daughter Clara Hansen (Maria Cina), who was adopted when she was six and does not know her origins. Thomas gets close to Clara trying to disclose her past and gets involved to a dramatic family situation.

"Suspended Animation", a.k.a. "Mayhem", is a very weird B-movie, since it begins in a suspenseful situation that recalls 'Misery", shifts to a heavy drama and has a very unfair conclusion. I liked the unknown cast: Laura Esterman and Sage Allen are great in the role of the two deranged sisters, showing a stupendous black humor in the beginning of the story while telling Thomas what would happen to him. Maria Cina is very beautiful and has a top-notch performance in her dramatic role. I felt sorry for the unfair fate of her character and I did not like the selfish lead character, capable of jeopardizing the life of another person to save his own. This movie could be a little shorter, but anyway it is underrated in IMDb. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Mutilados" ("Mutilated")
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Nice surprise
mwold5 November 2006
With little knowledge or context, I was happily surprised by this film! It's thoroughly engaging, and I would agree with some other reviewers in that this film is fairly effective exceeding expectation and throwing in a good handful of unexpected twists & turns. Some of the negative reviews are surprising and seem quite ridiculous as this is flagrantly far from being the worst film ever made. Obviously it's not high high art, but that clearly isn't the intention. If ultimately you want something that entertains and engages, which seems to my problem as of late (in that entertainment isn't that entertaining these days)! This is a well done thriller. Enjoy!
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Definitely worthwhile for the first half hour, don't bother about the rest!
johannes2000-120 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie (of which the title of my copy on DVD read: "Mayhem") started out so well: for the first half hour it's exciting, original and entertaining. The two cannibalistic sisters are a treat to watch, especially the one by Sage Ellen, they're played with a sardonic kind of humour and panache. Unfortunately, after the main character Tom Kempton (Alex McArthur) is saved, the movie sort of collapses, all the tension and pace evaporates in a sullen and overlong mid-section, where nothing much happens.

Apparently the director (Hancock) tried to give it a David Lynch-like brooding and mysterious atmosphere, but this failed thanks to the boring and very improbable goings-on. The only good thing is the excellent musical score by Angelo Badalamenti, who (not?) coincidentally also did the score of Mulholland Drive. The last part of the movie gets it again into a sort of thriller-mode, with wild attacks by psychopathic killers, It's definitely way over the top, as if the makers had three alternative endings in their mind and decided to use them all one after another.

All in all it's rather an unbalanced movie, with a very promising start but a disappointing last 2/3. McArthur doesn't really help, he walks around like he didn't much believe in the whole project himself, and the husky voice he uses in virtually every scene gradually annoyed the hell out of me! I did like Maria Cina though, and Fred Meyers had exactly the creepy looks and attitude that fitted the character of a psychopathic teenager. It's all the more sorry that both of them had to work on such a weak script. My final verdict: 4 out of 10 (but Sage Ellen gets a 10 plus!!!)
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really not that bad
vampiresan16 July 2006
For a video nasty this was surprisingly watchable. The choice to examine the obsession with evil in the 2nd act of the film gave it a depth that few horror/thrillers in the low budget genre ever truly achieve.

The basic plot is that a movie director is drugged and kidnapped by a pair of crazy cannibalistic sisters while he is on a snowmobiling holiday. Although he escapes, his brush with this evil leaves him obsessing with understanding what would make these women, particularly the dominant sister, Vanessa, become so twisted and warped.

His investigation leads him to find Vanessa's daughter, Clara, a struggling actress with an abusive teenage son.

The film doesn't revert to pointless gore but instead gives a thoughtful exploration of the quality of evil, beautifully examining the seeds of a serial killer and examining the idea of nature or nurture motivations. For the discerning viewer who doesn't just want a basic horror shocker, this film delivers some interesting ideas despite a few production and script flaws which can be attributed to small budget rather than small talents.
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What a great surprise!
me-3683 May 2004
I watched this movie with little to no expectations and was very surprised at how much I enjoyed it. There is such creepy dark humor within the script that you laugh as you cringe. A crusty tale of backwoods cannibals, how can that be anything but entertaining? As if the sisters weren't bad enough, when the boy enters the picture we are treated to yet another level of twisted heredity. Fred Meyers as Sanders is probably the most disgusting personification of "The Bad Teen" I have ever seen. Those zits!

Thomas Kempton's last line is the perfect end to the numerous horror flicks we have all seen. Why won't they just die?!
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Something of a hotch potch
alicespiral29 July 2006
What struck me was the remarkable similarity of Fred McArthur-who played animator Tom Kempton-to Gene Kelly both in looks and voice. Its a typical film of today's horror genre where everything is thrown in and you get the impression they never knew how to end it. The cannibal theme was quite interesting but rather pointless as we only saw a pair of women who talked about it.Kemton,by this time tied to a wheelchair and pleading to be set free,suddenly found himself minus a finger as one of the mad sisters chopped it off.Later when he was rescued by his snowmmobiling buddies who'd gone ahead of him,the finger was "reattached" with sticking plaster though you had to assume he later went to a hospital. Placing Kempton there in the first place was the stock plot of going to the house for help after he crashed his machine Here though is where the story began to go haywire as the animator makes a film based on the mad sisters-he'd previously promised to put them in the movies if they let him go!! Next up comes a meeting with a woman who turns out to be the adopted daughter of the youngest sister-she agrees to be a model for Kempton's next production.She in turn has a son who gives insanity a bad meaning and hes suspected of being a serial killer when Kempton discovers a pile of rings presumably trophies kept from his victims. Its not really that frightening when you think of what happens in real life but if you watch this movie don't blink too much or you may lose the plot! The ending was the kind thats been used over and over again-the villains are presumably killed but still keep coming back.we have the landrover which gets bogged down in the mud-as a variation to being unable to start-and you think no way would Gene Kelly have played in a film like this-he would probably have found it difficult keeping up with the plot!
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This review by critic Andrew Tallackson appeared in The News-Dispatch
atallackson16 February 2004
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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THIS IS GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
chad_puck17 April 2002
I loved it. The story Is awsome. My favorite chacter is Cliff. Jeff Puckett did a great job with that part. The sisters were great too. YOu have to see this movie. I mean it. Alex did a great job too. I did find some parts boring but just a little. Well go and see it!!!!!
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Mediocre take at true crime-esque drama
housecountrywife14 May 2017
Interesting movie, but I don't feel it was casted well. The movie seems influenced by Misery, but the cannibal sisters are nowhere near as convincing as Kathy Bates. There is another actor in this movie who plays the grandson of one of the cannibal sisters, and is a budding serial killer. The actor is almost laughable at his attempt to portray a young psycho, I believe he was from the Disney channel originally.

Overall, besides these faults, the movie is disturbing at times & is worth a watch. Maybe I'm just desensitized, this probably could horrify some folks out there. I'm interested to read the novel that the movie is based off of, it at least piqued my interest that much.
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Got my attention, surprisingly good
erikvianna7 September 2009
I could not sleep so I turned on the TV and this seemed to be the only movie that got my attention, at first, it seems that the movie will end after few torture scenes or what so ever but there are huge twists in the history that makes this film remarkably good besides not having an unique history it does make itself unique.

There are some actual stuff related to cannibalism such as it being heriditary and other sick stuff, the movie explores some bit of it but I didn't like so much how they introduced and put the history together, there seemed to lack an excuse to the main character be there and doing what he was actually doing.

Despite it's bad reviews, it's a worthy and interesting movie to watch and it develops very well along the theme.
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Filled with surprises
maglanpro13 May 2002
Highly recommended. This film constantly takes the viewer in directions he/she does not expect. Just when you think you know where it's going, it takes the viewer into a new unexpected plot twist. Great characters, directing and (let's not forget) writing. Try to see this, it's not what you think it's going to be
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This Film Was Awful!
Renie19747 May 2003
Having been an extra in the film, I eagerly anticipated it´s theatrical debut. Man, what a waste of anticipation! The casting was bad, and the plot was even worse. Most of the time, I could follow what was going on, but towards the end, it made no sense whatsoever. It should have just been released straight to the B-movie section of the video store, and that´s a shame, because I expected more.
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Wow! What A Load Of Steaming Crud!
elliotdowning20 March 2006
What starts as a cheap Misery rip-off soon deteriorates into a pointless and slow-moving telemovie with teenage tearaways jumping out of cupboards.

After Alex McArthur is kidnapped and presented with pickled appendages by insane sisters Vanessa and Ann, Alex returns home to search for the retina-challenged incestuous spawn of Vanessa. With her troubled, spotty son causing raccoon-torturing incidents, Alex becomes a little too involved in a twisted family album. (What we have written here would imply a far greater film than the one that we actually viewed) Despite this, one really has to give credit to the wardrobe department on this one, making a 2001 production really have that eighties look about it. Laura Esterman's beautiful wig-work is also a point of interest for water-cooler discussion. (Can't even figure out why it was appropriate for her to be wearing a wig) If it's confusing and pointless drivel you're after, then look no further than Suspended Animation - aka the more generically-titled Mayhem. Don't expect scares or entertainment from this film, rather confusion caused by the fact that you are 38 minutes into the film with no end in sight.
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Great Performances, Original Approach
E9923 September 2002
I saw this at the San Diego Film Festival and I was really impressed with it. Usually in horror films the gory stuff is all throughout with a big splatterfest at the end. This film approaches the horror genre almost in reverse. Most of the gore is in the beginning and the middle is made up of the main character trying to investigate his near death experience. The two cannibal sisters played by Laura Esterman and Sage Allen are WONDERFUL. Very strong performances from the both of them.
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Caught myself getting into it.
dniezby-217 July 2003
I liked it. It's a pretty good film once it gets moving. Locations were nice and the shots were well composed. I think the music could have created a little more emotion but it was used pretty well for the most part. I'd recommend it.
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Worst movie ever seen
Lambers-323 August 2006
This is really the worst movie I've ever seen. I've never seen such bad actors in one movie, the worst of them was Laura Esterman. She was so overacting. The movie also doesn't really have a story. First we watch two chicks torturing a man. After he fled and seemingly killed the two women, he follows a line of murders and gets to know another chick and her sadistic son (with very disgusting pimples on his neck, I almost had to puke). And you are crying at your TV "what the hell does that mean??". In the end, the two stories seem to be connected but the way the director did this was ridiculous. And what should this movie tell us?? The evil is genetically inheritable?? Really, Really bad movie. Don't even consider watching it. There's not even the promised gore and brutality in it. It could change your view on movies in a negative way.
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