| July 16, 2010

Violence has been an integral quality of film since its inception. From the wild antics of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp to modern day meditations such as Irreversible, Fight Club, or Eastern Promises, violence has nearly always been present. Used sparsely and responsibly on-screen movie violence can carry enormous power. It has the ability to launch explorations of complex moral issues and command an audience’s attention. So, in viewing the horror film Sutures, where the primary goal seems to be ripping the human body to pieces, one must attempt to ignore the bloodletting and try to objectively analyze the artistic merits of the filmmaking. Does the creative team integrate anything of intellectual or emotional worth into all the wickedness and vile debauchery? In this particular instance the answer is a resounding no.
Sutures begins with the discovery of our heroine, Sienna, tumbling headlong through a forest. She is bruised, and carries a serious wound in her neck that is gushing blood. Upon discovery, she is hospitalized and there recounts the horrific events of the past two weeks. We learn that Sienna is an aspiring doctor who, together with a small group of med-student friends, was vacationing in a remote desert location when trauma and tragedy struck. It was at this point that my eyes began to glaze over. Young, attractive people in a remote location. The men are jocks, while the women are all busty and brainless. It should be of no surprise that these plot elements sound familiar. Hell, they have only been the foundation of nearly every slasher film since 1983. With this painfully tired group of stereotypes, it is fitting that one of the main antagonists of the film should also be a crudely drawn cliche. A hunter, named Alexander Tatum, has been tracking the young doctors, determined to rain on their parade.
However, Alexander, despite his inhumanly demonic behavior, is meant to be a sympathetic figure. He is a wounded soul, reeling from past trauma, or so the filmmakers would like you to believe. I can’t say that I felt overly empathetic for a sociopathic madman who kills at will. I was more angered at the filmmakers for attempting to push me to emotionally connect with such a fiend. Having an emotionally scarring past is not always enough to completely absolve a present day existence of murderous activity.
Still, Tatum seems like a kitten when we meet the real devil at the heart of Sutures absurd plot. As it turns out Alexander is little more than a delivery boy. His purpose is to capture the med-students for the totally unhinged Dr. Hopkins, an egomaniacal nut job, who wants to harvest their organs for sale on the black market. After that the film, baring a few revelations regarding certain character’s relationships, plays out more than likely how you would expect. The students must struggle against both of these evil bastards, and the audience is treated to showers of blood and gore from every direction.
I think it is safe to say that Sutures is a film that simply dosen’t work on any level. There is nothing that pulls you out of the gloom or justifies the brutality. The whole premise of the story is simply ludicrous, (with Hopkins commanding an army of body part harvesters undetected). Also, the script fails to provide you with any reason to connect with any of the menaced med-students. Without that connection, why should we care about any of them or their plight? Why should we care about anything we are seeing up on screen? Despite the large cast Dr. Hopkins, played with great gusto by Andrew Pine, was the only character with any real spark. His character fires off several insane speeches and memorable lines which give the film a much needed jolt of energy.
Similar to the story the atheistic qualities of the film are just flat and uninteresting. Characters walk down blank, white walled hospital wings, or sneak through blotchy, dull torture rooms. The camera jumps around restlessly during a quiet moment at the hospital and remains flat and static during a majority of the torture sequences. The film, which clearly is a product of our deranged Saw and Hostel infused times, does not even present creative ways to destroy human beings. They are just painful, sad, and mean-spirited, although the ball-gag is included. To be able to enjoy Sutures you must really have a propensity for gore and guts, (including a truly gag-inducing mammary gland extraction scene). If that is how you get your kicks than Sutures will more than fit the bill for a night’s entertainment. But, if you are still a sane human being than there is little that the film will offer. Entertainment, (which is clearly the film’s only real goal), is absent not only because the film is dull, ugly, and slow-moving, but also because there are no real characters to root for or against. We can’t feel for these med-students because they are not human beings, but sacrificial lambs, primed and ready for the slaughter.

About the Author:

Adam Mohrbacher is a freelance film critic and writer who currently lives in Denver, CO.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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