February 10, 2023 / Paramount Movies
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Rachelle Goulding, Elyse Levesque, Lochlyn Munro, Garry Chalk, Trezzo Mahoro, Anita Brown, Bradley Stryker
After a near-fatal car accident, Sam wakes to discover he is trapped within an abandoned hospital by mysterious and sinister forces that have no intention of letting him leave.
Written By Darren
Rating 2 out of 5
Disquiet may have some intriguing visual moments and terrifying design choices for the inhabitants of the hospital where the film takes place, but an obvious and not even remotely scary story ultimately prevents this film from being the edge of your seat thriller it wants to be.
Low budget horror thrillers are tricky to get right. You need to have a premise that hooks your audience with a story that can deliver on it, some terrifying moments and a strong lead performance. With these elements, an audience can look past the lower production value and limited special effects budget, because the film is able to thrill or even scare them with the story and emotionally invest them in the film with the performance. We have recently seen that with hits last year such as Barbarian, Pearl and X, however Disquiet fails to deliver on any of these elements, resulting in a tiring experience.
The film follows Sam, a survivor of a near fatal car crash, who wakes up in what he thinks to be an abandoned hospital. However, Sam soon discovers that the hospital is not abandoned, but instead full of mysterious and sinister forces trying to keep him there, leaving him with no option but to fight for his escape.
There is an interesting horror film here as the concept is present, but the story built around the concept fails to create any tension. The film is filled with jump scares, such as an elderly patient constantly attacking Sam and breaking through the roof of an elevator, as well as an unseen force constantly grabbing characters and dragging them off screen. These scares can work once, or even a couple of times, if executed effectively, but they are repeated heavily within a single scene, causing them to lose any shock value. It actually results in them almost becoming comical at times, and deadly predictable as you see the camera setting up the next attempt to scare you. It is too bad because there is some great lighting using blue and purple blacklights and some disturbing creature design for the faceless medical staff and killer plastic surgeon patients that had the potential to create some terrifying moments.
Not helping is an obvious story that tries to surprise the audience, but its big twist is hiding in plain sight for the entire film. Through the character of Sam, the film creates the mystery of what this hospital actually is, and the screenplay does a good job of asking the questions. But given the individuals trapped in it and how they got there, it is not hard to guess. And if it wasn’t obvious, the attractive young female doctor in a red dress named Lillith and a kind older man who guide Sam on his quest should do the trick. One guides Sam down into the fiery basement of the hospital, while the other to the rooftop for light, making the metaphor of the hospital very self evident early on in the film. It takes the wind out of the sail for the “big” reveal in the final act, instead making you question why the film took so long to get to this point and did not have any more of an insightful story to tell.
Unfortunately, the screenplay provides very little material for the cast to work with. While I normally enjoy Jonathan Rhys Meyers in films and television shows, the poor man is grasping at straws with his performance. He has some moments where he sells you on his character’s terror and handles himself well as he convincingly fights off the supernatural beings trying to trap him in the hospital; however, there is little substance to his performance. It is the actor’s job to bring a character to life and emotionally invest the audience in that character’s survival in a horror movie if they are portraying the lead character. He fails to bring any true emotion to the character, instead playing it rather flat for the majority of the film by adhering too closely to the script, which buries the end of Sam’s character arc by the end of the film where the story tries for that emotional payoff.
The rest of the cast is merely present, with Lochlyn Munro playing an iteration of a character that he is usually type cast in. I don’t mind Munro, but the poor man keeps being given the same stereotypical character and it just gets old quickly. The true saving grace of the film is Garry Chalk as Virgil, and while his role in the story is obvious, Chalk is warm and welcoming. It’s too bad Chalk has a limited amount of screentime, as the film could have benefited greatly from a larger presence by him.
It’s hard to say that I am shocked by my reaction to Disquiet, but I had hopes after that cool visuals in the trailer and the casting of Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the lead role that this could be a sleeper hit. Unfortunately, Disquiet is weighted down by poor jump scares and an obvious story that plays it far too safe, wasting some great designs and lighting choices with an uncommitted performance from Jonathan Rhys Meyers that cannot salvage the film.