The time-bending, hospital-based cat and mouse horror ‘Inoperable’ offers a refreshing change from the usual horror-tropes, throwing in a sense of misdirection and an open-ended feel to its plot and conclusion.

Christopher Lawrence Chapman writes and directs a film whose plot description is probably best left described by its press release:

“A young woman wakes up in a seemingly evacuated hospital with a hurricane approaching that has awakened malevolent forces inside. She realizes she must escape the hospital before the hurricane passes, or she will be trapped there forever.”

Difficult to describe in any greater detail without offering up spoilers, which in a mystery film which would be somewhat, well, spoiling.

The film plays with like short looping sections of story, which start with the lead character in the same location (the drivers seat of a Corvette Stingray no less) and end with her passing out in the hospital, rebooting the sequence. Each time she revives she is able to make a little more progress with her escape and offering us little tit-bits of exposition, so we can figure out just what the fudge is going on.

Within the sections there are some characters which are ‘friendlies’, whereas most, namely the hospital surgeons and orderlies, are hostile. As I said in the opener, time is very disjointed in this film, and often we meet the various characters at different stages in their ‘looping’ attempts to escape.

Sound confusing? Well, to be honest it makes more sense when you watch it, although ultimately, it doesn’t really develop much past this mechanic. I didn’t get 100% of what was happening (perhaps a second viewing would have helped here), and then there is an ending, which seemed like it could have been a really clever twist, or a not so clever cop out! I still haven’t decided for myself.

Beyond the story, which is intriguing throughout, there are some nice sections of gore, great practical effects and some reasonably horrific operations performed on often live victims. They are not that frequent, so don’t expect a slasher, but it was a nice touch to give the cat and mouse run around sequences a little more context – I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to have gotten caught!

There are some attempts at a few jump scares, and there is the typical psych-ward patient which appears ominously in the back ground of shots, but ultimately, and rather bizarrely, the hospital was of contemporary design, as opposed to derelict. Its fine, but it was a bit off putting to see a horror hospital with higher standard of cleanliness than our local NHS walk-in.

Overall, ‘Inoperable’ was a nice 90-minute distraction. It dips its toe into a lot of nice ideas, none of which are particularly developed, but all of which work well enough for an evenings worth of entertainment. It ticks the gore and violence box, with a decent story to keep things moving at a swift pace; although like I said, the jury is still out on the ending.

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