Genre : SF / Thriller
Country : Australia
Paul O’Brien : John
Carlotte Nicdao : Lilly
Frank Magree : Giggles
Director : Robert Mond
“The Subjects” begins abruptly with a commercial about the pharmaceutical company SunSky. Unfortunately the quality of this fragment wasn’t maintained the entire movie. As slick and polished as this clip looks like, so limited and dated the rest looks. The entire film takes place in one location. A discarded music studio that looks quite dusty. It’s there where the eight guinea pigs are waiting, in order to take part in a medical experiment. You’d expect a high-tech, pharmaceutical company would have a glitzy, modern laboratories to do such experiments. This seemed rather like an out of use, abandoned hangar somewhere in a ghetto.
The eight strangers participating in this experiment are told that they’ll take a new type of medication, in the form of a pill, and they need to stay for eight hours in that room. After that period, they can leave and will receive a reward of $ 800. This new chemical substance gives each person some kind of super power. And it looks like they don’t have control over it. So you get some ordinary people, in essence insignificant persons, in a difficult situation with no way out. So it entirely degenerates into a tense, psychopathic atmosphere. And this while scientists are observing everything by use of cameras. So they are trapped like rats. Or better, trapped like Guinea pigs. As the title of the film says, they are simply ordinary, manipulable subjects.
The idea had potential enough to make it a fascinating film. However, the development left something to be desired. Partially you can blame the budget. “The Subjects” meets all the requirements of a low-budget B-movie. The actors are total strangers, the setting where everything takes place looks cheap and the effects are taken out of a vintage bag of tricks. The only thing this film could save would be a strong, original story and some brilliant performances. Unfortunately it goes wrong in that area as well.
The actors play a variety of personalities, ranging from extremely annoying to highly entertaining. Most annoying characters are Jenna (Emily Wheaton) and Devin (Spencer McLaren). The first was the height of stupidity. A conceited, narcissistic bimbo whose only purpose in life is to attend as many parties as possible. Devin is a nasty, aggressive guy who fortunately experiences the unpleasant side effects of the pill first. Corey (Paul-Henri) is the weirdo of the company. Someone who was at Woodstock I guess and I’m sure he used some other pills. John (Paul O’Brien) can be seen as the most normal and relaxed person. The magic tricks he knew were a little bland. After his first childish demonstration I was convinced that this would be important in the complete story. Nikki (Katharine Ines) is the appropriate person to complement John. A seemingly very normal, nice looking woman who prefers to reveal nothing about herself. Lilly (Charlotte Nicdao) is a timid girl. She’s the complete opposite of Giggles (Frank Magree), an Australian big mouth. The latter created a bit of animo and evoked a few chuckles from me. Highly amusing. And somewhere at the end, Phil (Tosh Greenslade) shows up. His pill had one of the most interesting effects.
A colorful group which ensures some lively conversations. But the special effects were incredibly bad. Especially what happened to Devin was poorly displayed. The superpowers weren’t very original either. I wondered what’s so special about a force that enables you to change color. The most imaginative powers were the teleportation part and time travelling. Lilly, however, suddenly emerging as an expert in time travel, was a bit nonsensical and quite a coincidence. You’re witnessing the whole movie how individuals get into a panicked state and how these characters interact and react to each other. It’s not really exciting and there are too many aspects that remain unclear. A unique concept, though. But my view about Australian films being among the better movies generally, is being undermined a bit with this film.