Bane (2009)

How far would you go to avoid extinction?
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Bane - How far would you go to avoid extinction?

Bane tells the story of four women who, after being administered an injection, awake in a medical facility with no memory of who they are or why they are there. They are subjected to various cruel and unusual tests, but things get decidedly worse when a masked surgeon begins to visit them, carving numbers into their skin. It soon becomes apparent that the numbers represent the time at which the surgeon will return to kill them. The women must try to solve the mystery of why they are there or become the next victim of the surgeon's knife.

I was rather surprised that this film was British; most recent British horror films tend to be urban supernatural tales or urban violence movies. It was a nice change to watch an intelligent British sci-fi horror that also didn't shy away from the gore.

I was a little concerned when this movie first got going, as the set design is rather cheap and simple. Wire mesh walls covered in semi translucent paper or plastic and not much else. My first thought was 'they must have spent all of twenty pounds on this set' however, once the story gets going this is not only easily forgotten, but actually helps toward the claustrophobic and confusing nature of the facility. The silhouettes of the medical personnel moving around behind the walls is especially creepy.

This is a very low budget affair, but I feel the filmmakers and director James Eaves did a great job of using this to their advantage. Certain things are glimpsed, or seen only in part rather than seen fully a lot of the time, which not only adds to the intrigue of the story but avoids displaying any shortcomings in the effects. This does not mean that it is another example of everything happening off screen, there are lots of very gory scenes with large amounts of well-used blood thrown around the place. This is especially true during the surgeon's visits.

What the filmmakers use here is something that a lot of horror movies forget about. They appear to be very aware that the anticipation of death is often much more frightening than death itself. Time plays a big part in this movie, from the obvious countdown to death for the chosen women, to more subtle ways in the climax. Clocks and images of clocks appear throughout leaving you with a sense that time is of the essence for everyone here.

The women themselves are easily pigeonholed: the angry one, the sensitive one, the caring one and the smart one. It won't take long for you to work out which is which. All the women play their parts well, each reacting to their circumstances in different ways and giving the viewer different perspectives on the same situation. The standout performance of this movie however, has to be the Dr. Murdoch who is conducting the tests. Played by Daniel Jordan, he creates the air of someone whose work is very important but also who maybe takes a little too much pleasure in the sadistic nature of the tests he puts his subjects through. This allows the viewer to truly believe he will do anything to get the results he needs.

The film itself plays out kind of like a feature length, gorier Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episode; this is not a bad thing at all. As with those programs, this movie keeps you wondering till the end. You will probably have many theories throughout the movie of what is going on, some right, some wrong, I certainly did. By the end of the movie I felt that the wait had been worth it and the payoff/reveal was pretty good. The film is not without its problems though. The surgeon is played creepily and brutally by Sam Smith but is not as fully explained as I would have liked, and with the reasonable running time I am sure more explanation could have been slotted in somewhere. How does he seem to come from nowhere? Why are the women examined after he has visited them? These are some of the questions I would have liked to see answered. This is, however a small complaint in what is an interesting and different film.

What director James Eaves has presented us with is an interesting journey into a nightmare of paranoia, cruelty and the lengths we will sometimes go to for the greater good. A movie that dares to be different from many of the other sci-fi horrors out there, and that can't be a bad thing at all.
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