Violence has been an integral quality of film since its inception. From the wild antics of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp to modern-day meditations such as Irreversible, Fight Club or Eastern Promises, violence has nearly always been present. Used sparsely and responsibly on-screen movie violence can carry enormous power. It has the ability to launch explorations of complex moral issues and command an audience’s attention. In viewing the horror film Sutures, where the primary goal seems to be ripping the human body to pieces, one must attempt to ignore the bloodletting and try to objectively analyze the artistic merits of the filmmaking. Does the creative team integrate anything of intellectual or emotional worth into all the wickedness and vile debauchery? In this particular instance the answer is a resounding no.
Sutures begins with the discovery of our heroine Sienna, tumbling headlong through a forest. She is bruised and carries a serious wound in her neck that is gushing blood. Upon discovery, she is hospitalized and there recounts the horrific events of the past two weeks. We learn that Sienna is an aspiring doctor who was vacationing in a remote desert location with a small group of friends. There trauma and tragedy struck.
At this point in the film my eyes were already beginning to glaze over. The story pieces are so familiar: young, attractive people in a remote location. The men are jocks, while the women are all busty and brainless. Can anyone guess what is going to happen? Hell, this set up has only been the foundation of nearly every slasher film since 1983. With this painfully tired group of stereotypes it is fitting that one of the main antagonists of the film should also be a crudely drawn cliché. A hunter, named Alexander Tatum, has been tracking the young doctors, determined to rain on their parade.
However Alexander, despite his inhumanly demonic behavior, is meant to be a sympathetic figure. He is a wounded soul, reeling from past trauma – or so the filmmakers would like you to believe. I can’t say that I felt overly empathetic for a sociopathic madman who kills at will. I was more angered at the filmmakers for attempting to push me to emotionally connect with such a fiend.
Still, Tatum seems like a kitten when we meet the real devil at the heart of Sutures’ absurd plot. As it turns out Alexander is little more than a delivery boy. His purpose is to capture the med-students for the totally unhinged Dr. Hopkins, who is an egomaniacal nut job who wants to harvest their organs and sell them on the black market. Once Tatum successfully captures them the film plays out how you would expect. The students must struggle against both of these evil bastards, and the audience is treated to showers of blood and gore from every direction.
I think it is safe to say that Sutures is a film that simply doesn’t work on any level. There is nothing that pulls you out of the gloom or justifies the brutality. The whole premise of the story is simply ludicrous (with Hopkins commanding an army of body part harvesters undetected). Also, the script fails to provide you with any reason to connect with any of the menaced med-students. Without that connection why should we care about any of them or their plight? Why should we care about anything we are seeing up on-screen? Despite the large cast Dr. Hopkins, played with great gusto by Andrew Pine, was the only character with any real spark. His character fires off several insane speeches and memorable lines which give the film a much-needed jolt of energy.
Similar to the story the atheistic qualities of the film are just flat and uninteresting. Characters walk down blank, white-walled hospital wings or sneak through blotchy, dull torture rooms. The camera jumps around restlessly during a quiet moment at the hospital and remains flat and static during a majority of the torture sequences. The film is clearly a product of our deranged Saw and Hostel-infused times. Yet it fails to even present creative ways to destroy human beings. The methods are just painful, sad, and mean-spirited, although the ball-gag is always a nice touch.
To be able to enjoy Sutures you must really have a propensity for gore and guts (including a truly gag-inducing mammary gland extraction scene). If that is how you get your kicks than Sutures will more than fit the bill for a night’s entertainment. If you are still a sane human being however there is little that the film will offer. Entertainment (which is clearly the film’s only real goal) is absent not only because the film is dull, ugly and slow-moving, but also because there are no real characters to root for or against. We can’t feel for these med-students because they are not human beings but sacrificial lambs, primed and ready for the slaughter.