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
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,
Hayden Christensen and
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
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.
Coma (75 percent) is
Michael Crichton‘s earliest directing efforts. Fresh off the success of
used his own experience as a doctor to adapt Robin Cook’s novel about a dark
conspiracy in a Boston hospital.
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
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.
Gardener (84 percent)
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.