Exquisite Tenderness

Schenkel handles this medical chiller with the sledge-hammer subtlety he brought to Knight Moves. Ironically, although he expressed reservations about the gore quotient, the set-piece nastiness is the one element that works. A giant syringe being shoved up someone's nostril is guaranteed to provoke a response. By contrast, attempts at suspense fail dismally, due to lack of narrative control and a surfeit of flashy camerawork. A monochrome pre-credits sequence in which a boy witnesses the blood-spattered demise of his sick brother explains the killer's psychological trauma. We then flash forward to the present, where Dr McCann (Glasser), desperate to clear her name after the gruesome death of a dialysis patient, enlists the help of an ambitious toxicologist (Remar). As the mystery unfolds, it becomes clear that someone with a grudge is bumping off the hospital's patients, in order to disgrace the medical staff and further his own Frankensteinian research into tissue and bone regeneration. The presence of McDowell as the fanatical Dr Stein offers a glimmer of hope, but when he dies, the film dies with him. Schenkel's reputation rests on his tense, lift-bound suspenser Out of Order, but on this evidence he's never going to get past the first floor.

Release details

Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Carl Schenkel
Screenwriter: Bernard Sloane, Patrick Cirillo
Cast: Isabel Glasser
James Remar
Malcolm McDowell
Peter Boyle
Charles Dance
Sean Haberle
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