Power and control are the components in Robert Mond’s voyeuristic sci-fi thriller, where super-powers are anything but super. An unorthodox approach to your average superhero film.
The plot follows a group of eight unsuspecting participants who volunteer themselves in a clinical trial for the pharmaceutical company SunSkye. After ingesting an experimental drug and being locked in a room for observation, the strangers slowly discover each has been gifted with an individual power. While they think the benefits of their newfound skills are rewarding, the catch becomes apparent as the lack of control inevitably puts each of their lives on the line. As the group struggle to plot their desperate escape, personalities inevitably clash with gruesome consequences. Reminiscent of the Final Destination films, this is a gory take on the superhero genre, emphasising the pitfalls rather than the greatness of being gifted with extraordinary power.
The combination of characters is critical for developing the tension in Mond’s film. Anger and frustration are fuelled by the loud and obnoxious Giggles (played by Frank Magree), initiated usually by ditzy Jenna whose over use of the word “literally” grates on everyone, especially the stand-in leader John (played by Paul O’Brien). The more likeable personalities are drawn from the brains of the group, comic book aficionado Lilly (played by Charlotte Nicdao) and straight-talking Nikki, who acts as the voice of reason. Despite their notable traits, the characters feel a little under-developed, with the potential for emotional complexity missed.
Mond’s film manages to keep the drama rolling, despite having a stagnant setting. However, it would have been interesting to see how the characters fared in alternative situations. Nonetheless, the idea of the big personalities being contained in one stifled room adds to the experimental element the film’s premise is based upon. The visuals may not be as arresting as many of the genre’s high-budget counterparts, but they have enough shock value to entertain.
Mond’s sci-fi thriller takes a fresh angle on the saturated superhero genre, where the lines between good and evil are non-existent. The Subjects accurately fuses the terrifying reality of having great power with the desperate need for escapism that lies in all of us.
The Subjects is released nationwide on 18th February 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Subjects here: