If I hadn’t established this already – I’m a big Danielle Harris fan, ever since my childhood seeing her in things like Eerie, Indiana, and Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. She’s one of the best child actors ever. She has since been very prolific, more often than not appearing in horror movies and, sadly, more often than not appearing in not very good movies. Given that she usually manages to elevate whatever she’s in, I try to watch as many of her films as possible on the hope that she’ll appear in something as good as her most memorable movies.
Inoperable isn’t one of those. It is based on a fun and interesting premise though – one which was strong enough to pull me in even before I knew she was in it. Danielle Harris plays a woman who wakes up in a seemingly abandoned hospital, dressed like she is about to be operated on. With little memory of why she’s there, she wanders the halls and eventually finds other patients and staff, and catching snippets of weather reports hinting that a major storm will be passing through the area shortly. Also, she seems to keep ‘waking up’ in her car on a busy road – at first she assumes the hospital vision was just a dream, but when she keeps leaping between the two, reality and truth begin to blur.
The film mixes mystery and horror – why is any of this happening to her? How come some of the other people she meets seem to remember her, yet at other times forget? How come some of the hospital staff seem intent on murdering her? What is the significance of the weather? It’s part slasher, part Groundhog Day, part some more confused Lynchian nightmare. Unfortunately, it loses much of its early intrigue due to quite a lot of repetition and too many shots of running through corridors. There’s a good movie in year, but it’s hindered by what I can only perceive to make a lack of experience and innovation in the writing and direction and an uncertainty over how to wring the most tension and intrigue out of the premise while leading us towards a satisfying ending. Harris is fine, though spends much of the film in a confused and empty state, while the rest of the cast are adequate in mainly minor roles. It’s been at least a couple of years since I watched this so some of the finer details have probably been lost, but my most abiding memory of the viewing experience was being frustrated by the execution living up to the potential of the idea. Still, if you like films which bounce around in a non-linear way and ask mind-bending questions, or if you’re a Danielle Harris kinda person, it’s worth a go but I can’t see it earning many uber-fans.
Let us know what you thought of Inoperable in the comments!