Total Recall

Total Recall: Malice and Medicine

Exploring the mal of medical practice.

by | November 28, 2007 | Comments

Imagine what it might be like if you needed surgery.
 You’re more than a little nervous about the whole idea.  In fact when you think
about it, you’ll admit you’re frankly terrified by the whole idea.  What if
something goes wrong?  What if the doctors make a mistake?  And what if you
don’t wake up after the surgery?   Or worse yet, what if you wake up during
the procedure?

One of the scarier stories about medical mishaps in the
last few years is about a phenomenon called “anesthetic awareness.” Patients
talk about actually being awake and aware throughout an entire procedure and
feeling every sensation that the anesthetic is supposed to suppress, while being
completely unable to move or communicate with the doctors.  That’s the basic
premise of this week’s Awake,
starring
Hayden Christensen
and
Jessica Alba
A man with a heart problem (Christensen) goes in for a transplant, but wakes up
during the procedure, yet totally unable to move.  And as if that wasn’t bad
enough, he hears his own doctor discussing plans to kill him.  Talk about adding
insult to injury.

Considering the level of trust that we as a society put in
healthcare professionals, the concept of putting a doctor in a malicious light
can be a very effective tool for a thriller.  Some folks are pretty squeamish
about needles and scalpels anyway, and when those tools are used to
intentionally inflict pain, it can be horrific. Some filmmakers have gone for
the easy scare with throwaway slashers like
Dr. Giggles
(17
percent) and The
Dentist
(0 percent), while even the
Saws
have some scary
medical overtones.  And then there’s that horrific scene in
Marathon Man
(77
percent), which did for dentists what Jaws did for trips to the beach. 

But some films, like
Coma
,
Dirty Pretty
Things
, and
The Constant
Gardener
take the very concept of health care, pick it apart, and play
with our feelings of trust and hope.  That can be just as disturbing as anything
you’ll see in the goriest slasher films.

1978’s
Coma
(75 percent) is
one of
Michael Crichton
‘s earliest directing efforts.  Fresh off the success of
Westworld
, Crichton
used his own experience as a doctor to adapt Robin Cook’s novel about a dark
conspiracy in a Boston hospital. 
Genevieve
Bujold
stars as a young resident who gets a little too curious about why
so many patients are coming out of surgery in comas.  Unfortunately, it looks
like every other doctor on staff (Michael
Douglas
,
Richard Widmark
, and
Rip Torn) may be
in on the plot, and the film gets increasingly more paranoid as time goes by. 
Bujold eventually discovers that the hospital is in the business of harvesting
organs from certain patients, and she narrowly avoids losing her own.


Michael Crichton’s Coma



Dirty Pretty
Things
(94 percent) isn’t so much about a doctor who is evil, so
much as it’s about a doctor who may have to do evil things. 
Chiwetel
Ejiofor
plays Okwe, a Nigerian doctor who has illegally immigrated to
London.  He can’t practice in England because of his status, so he works a
variety of menial jobs to survive, and treats other illegal immigrants for extra
money.  While working as a hotel porter, he discovers a human heart, and his
quest to discover where it came from leads him to a dirty business of human
organs being traded for immigration papers, all while trying to stay out of
sight of immigration authorities.  It’s a frightening look at what it must be
like to live between the cracks of society, and how even someone with Okwe’s
training and morals is driven to extremes in order to survive.


Chiwetel Ejiofor and Audrey Tautou in Dirty Pretty Things

In
The Constant
Gardener
(84 percent)
Ralph Fiennes
stars as a low-level British bureaucrat whose wife (Rachel
Weisz
) was killed on a mercy mission in Africa.  As Fiennes investigates, it
at first seems like his wife may have been having an affair, but then he
discovers that she had been investigating the activities of a large,
multinational drug company.  Details of illegal testing, conspiracy and
government corruption come to light, and we learn that the businesses that make
medicine can be just as ruthless as any third world warlord.


A scene from The Constant Gardener

Tag Cloud

Red Carpet E! kong Chilling Adventures of Sabrina archives CNN A24 thriller festivals Funimation kaiju comic books blockbuster worst movies book adaptation Country Music Musical USA Network TNT Quiz mockumentary CBS spinoff chucky Awards Tour 2018 italian ESPN video zombie elevated horror blockbusters 72 Emmy Awards Set visit Binge Guide Disney+ Disney Plus screenings Year in Review rotten movies we love Emmys Tubi Epix Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Television Critics Association Rocketman documentary Character Guide news Academy Awards Reality Competition The Purge Hallmark Endgame comedies game show ViacomCBS period drama franchise Schedule DC streaming service romance strong female leads heist movie free movies latino Netflix Christmas movies Black History Month BET hist ratings book crime thriller Kids & Family cinemax See It Skip It Crunchyroll medical drama TCA Awards Drama historical drama 4/20 football YA composers Heroines justice league anime Mindy Kaling Amazon nature President Alien 2017 The Arrangement cops MSNBC halloween tv spain Marvel Studios razzies emmy awards San Diego Comic-Con singing competition supernatural superman HBO Max E3 quibi Starz Animation Disney streaming service police drama directors renewed TV shows 99% ABC Signature Biopics nbcuniversal Sci-Fi harry potter screen actors guild American Society of Cinematographers Marathons Song of Ice and Fire trailers FX christmas movies green book CW Seed Pet Sematary streaming dc Spring TV scorecard TV One Writers Guild of America joker Film Turner Classic Movies SXSW politics Lifetime Christmas movies PaleyFest GIFs Comic Book animated Avengers rt archives Masterpiece name the review Dark Horse Comics scary movies sitcom Video Games obituary Pixar black movies cooking LGBT ghosts YouTube Premium Hallmark Christmas movies The Witch australia Grammys Paramount Plus Super Bowl NYCC Amazon Prime halloween VH1 FOX versus crime drama doctor who Mary poppins casting MTV boxoffice OWN VICE indiana jones Star Wars canceled TV shows Nat Geo vampires robots El Rey pirates of the caribbean Food Network Women's History Month RT21 Pop TV Apple Anna Paquin cartoon japanese Black Mirror 24 frames 2021 Rocky james bond Netflix Film Festival Star Trek OneApp Britbox talk show sports Turner 2016 rotten DC Universe Mary Tyler Moore TCA 2017 south america all-time theme song Amazon Studios Tumblr crossover children's TV women witnail golden globes Spectrum Originals TV Baby Yoda TruTV ABC Family Oscars Mary Poppins Returns dark X-Men Holidays Polls and Games kids disaster godzilla CMT LGBTQ documentaries FXX MCU The Academy Pop CBS All Access golden globe awards Shudder Teen Disney Channel Warner Bros. Discovery Channel Crackle worst History prank Certified Fresh finale Legendary Interview DirecTV BBC One Winter TV Acorn TV sag awards anthology comiccon 21st Century Fox classics Hulu Fox News deadpool psycho Comedy Martial Arts Election Family Comics on TV Trivia festival blaxploitation cancelled laika Logo technology child's play true crime docuseries ID TCM 2020 Sneak Peek Vudu Lionsgate Photos venice Superheroe adventure BAFTA toy story YouTube Chernobyl Disney social media diversity The Walt Disney Company Apple TV+ Stephen King travel HBO Go Countdown TBS mutant zombies twilight Nominations TV Land transformers Elton John Tarantino Shondaland Action RT History rom-coms Podcast 71st Emmy Awards concert natural history Disney Plus facebook Musicals Ghostbusters boxing best 93rd Oscars Awards WGN Nickelodeon Syfy Bravo breaking bad Box Office TV renewals fast and furious Universal Toys Adult Swim Thanksgiving Rock monster movies comics Arrowverse jurassic park Fantasy DC Comics 2019 a nightmare on elm street canceled Spike IFC Films revenge Mystery ITV Emmy Nominations National Geographic TLC psychological thriller Mudbound 2015 cats king kong Reality stop motion crime batman AMC french parents HBO BBC America serial killer Exclusive Video Marvel Television space SundanceTV Winners docudrama adaptation Pirates what to watch Trailer Cannes The CW telelvision Western Sundance TV reboot cancelled TV shows Horror 007 First Reviews Fall TV Trophy Talk war werewolf cancelled TV series Captain marvel critics GLAAD spanish language First Look Fox Searchlight Marvel reviews The Walking Dead hidden camera YouTube Red aliens Sundance Now VOD GoT universal monsters asian-american 45 Apple TV Plus satire dramedy sequels TCA Winter 2020 Ellie Kemper Summer television popular Best and Worst Calendar Comedy Central Lifetime films science fiction Infographic 20th Century Fox remakes A&E teaser Pride Month die hard Walt Disney Pictures unscripted TIFF Creative Arts Emmys ABC cults foreign Television Academy Paramount Network series New York Comic Con fresh Holiday independent WarnerMedia Watching Series nfl PBS Columbia Pictures comic tv talk award winner cancelled television Amazon Prime Video hollywood Premiere Dates video on demand Cartoon Network binge spanish political drama based on movie Sony Pictures IFC game of thrones Broadway DGA Showtime superhero hispanic stand-up comedy Christmas Valentine's Day 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards new star wars movies Paramount discovery dragons zero dark thirty Cosplay spy thriller NBC mission: impossible Opinion USA Rom-Com movie Tomatazos BET Awards Brie Larson stoner biography PlayStation miniseries sequel romantic comedy Superheroes indie Extras cars Sundance FX on Hulu slashers jamie lee curtis Peacock spider-man Lucasfilm Esquire Freeform dogs criterion Hear Us Out richard e. Grant Travel Channel Classic Film SDCC toronto BBC TCA Ovation APB dceu