In Woody Allen’s Sleeper, a guy goes in for routine surgery that turns out to be anything but. Uh oh. That, at least, was played for kicks as the protagonist wakes up in a future with oversized vegetables and an Orgasmatron machine to get your rocks off (or heck, maybe there’s overlap between the two).
Antidote (2021) follows a similar template, at least with respect to the set up. Sharyn (The Human Centipede’s Ashlynn Yennie) has appendicitis. But instead of removing the vestigial organ, physicians remove her from society altogether, and she ends up in a basement of a research lab, where Hippocratic oaths are reversed in practise.
She fashions what in prison lingo is referred to as a kite – a message that can be furtively passed along to a fellow patient, well…inmate. And it turns out that people are being held against their will, for a period of three months, while evil docs perform all sorts of horrendous procedures that include amputations, burnings, psychological abuse. Good times, right?
It’s all overseen by the evil Dr. Hellenbach (get it, “hell and back?” Sheesh, Malone) whose icy demeanour betrays pretty bad bedside manners. And Sharyn must use her wits to escape, which includes everybody’s favorite ruse: dressing up as someone else, in this case by donning medical scrubs.
Other reviewers have pointed out this is more Saw than Hospital Massacre, more The Facility than Hellhole. Actually, if it were more like The Facility, that would’ve been a good thing, as that one tells a far more compelling story of a drug trial gone wrong, and employing hyper-realism to do it.
Still, for a miniscule budget, Antidote generates a few solid scares. Unfortunately, it’s marred by bodice ripper-like flashbacks and could’ve benefited from a research lab being more cold and clinical (like an actual research lab) than some kind of retrofitted basement.
*** (out of 5)