With a sharp intake of breath, Rob Grant’s Alive opens in a blood-soaked nightmare – waking up in a derelict hospital and covered in wounds and dirty bandages, a man (Thomas Cocquerel) desperately tries to reach the exit before whoever’s keeping him there finds him.
It soon becomes clear that both he and a fellow female patient (Camille Stopps) have no memories of how they got there, who they are and, most importantly, how they get out. What is apparent, is that they’re both in need of medical assistance which comes to them via a mysterious man (Angus Macfadyen).
However, with a (to put it mildly) psychotic bedside manner (“Pain means you’re alive,” he smiles as he roughly tends to the open wounds) and an insistence on keeping them tied to the bed for their so-called own benefit, they can’t help but be suspicious of his true intentions.
Most definitely deciding on the ‘NOT here to help’ side of the argument, the two patients decide they need to escape – but how?
Director Rob Grants starts off the action and intrigue immediately, and doesn’t let up until the final moments of the film. It’s clear the patients are trapped in a medical maze – escape attempts simply unravel bigger puzzles and questions are invariably answered with more questions. Grant also keeps the disconcerting nature coming, interspersing the hospital-based dramas with confusing dream sequences from the sleeper’s point-of-view – making you feel like you’re in a blurry videogame.
What starts off as a seemingly common horror formula soon transcends into something more, which is enough to keep viewers interested for the film’s various twists and turns. Though it does drag slightly, the key performances are engaging – the two leads have enough chemistry that you’re invested in their survival and Macfadyen’s unhinged performance ensures you’re genuinely worried for them.
While there aren’t many too shocks, there are plenty of tense sequences and gory moments. The last third does feel a little long for it to be an exciting climax but that pays off with a final twist that’s satisfying enough.
Alive is out on digital release now.