A man (Thomas Cocquerel) awakens on a hospital trolley in extreme pain, and tries to get his bearings, but it is no use, he has no idea who he is or where he is. He drags himself off the trolley and onto the floor, noting his body is swathed in bloodstained bandages, and crawls from the room, making his way down the corridor outside toward a pair of doors that hold a tantalising "EXIT" sign blinking above them, but as he is halfway there he hears whistling behind him and realises someone has noticed he is missing, and is approaching. This is, apparently, his doctor (Angus Macfadyen), but given what terrible shape the man is in, he refuses to be looked after by someone who for all he knows landed him in this pickle in the first place. Yet the doctor will not be placated...
A Canadian horror in part of a long tradition of such efforts, Alive was also in a more recent tradition of films that use the same title as more famous movies, but aren't remakes, an irritating habit if you were a film buff who liked to be specific about what you were talking about. Therefore it was unlikely that this item would supplant the more celebrated adaptation of the true life story of the South American rugby team whose plane crashed in The Andes and whose survivors were forced to eat dead bodies to stay alive. What it was turned out to be a variation on the torture porn genre that had bloomed with disreputable enthusiasm around twenty years before, though it also owed a lot to a more traditional horror yarn - to say any more would be to give away the big twist.
Although even then the finale was lifted from a different movie, John Frankenheimer's cult classic miseryfest Seconds, though with a different lead up to prevent any legal action. That lead up was somewhat drawn out to the ninety minute running time, but director Rob Grant (not the Red Dwarf guy) did a pretty decent job of sustaining the levels of interest despite events growing ever more repetitive as the two leads were caught, then escaped, then were caught again, and so on until they could take no more and really fought back. The other protagonist was another unnamed character, the woman (Camille Stopps), similarly bandaged who goes along with the maniac medical man's wishes as she attempts to find a window of opportunity to get the hell out of there: her partner is less patient (so to speak).
Macfadyen didn't use his Scottish accent to portray the mad doctor, in a way a shame because a really crazy Scots villain would have been a novel addition to the horror movie canon, leaving us having to be content with Mrs Doubtfire as the main exponent. What he did appear to be doing was a Stephen Fry impersonation, a curious choice and not particularly scary, but featuring enough personality and novelty to carry the picture through its ebbs and flows. What we were here for was to see if the man and woman could escape, and it was a long enough wait to have you pondering that the whole shebang may be intended as a metaphor for the ultimate futility of existence or somesuch until you twigged that they didn't quite have enough plot and were purely delaying their big reveal as long as possible. Not a bad idea, for if you got halfway through and were growing antsy, it was worth remembering there was an explanation and it was an amusing one, if as mentioned, derivative. But even that could be forgiven thanks to the brio this went about its business with. Music by Michelle Osis.