The Hospital

Oddly enough, I almost crowned The Hospital as the non-horror film of the week. It straddles the line between horror and drama. Any synopsis you read will tag this production as a black comedy. Actually, that's a rather accurate tag, but it doesn't matter how you classify The Hospital. It's a stellar picture under any umbrella.

The script follows Dr. Bock (as portrayed by George C. Scott), a suicidal doctor who toils away at a grim corpse foundry masquerading as an infirmary. This is one place you would not want to be checked into. The interns are incompetent, there are never any available beds, and...hmm, I'm forgetting something. Oh, and there is a psychopath stalking the halls Michael Myers-style.

There is nothing I love more than a good suspense flick set in a hospital. Personally, I hate hospitals, but I enjoy medical thrillers a la Coma and Visiting Hours. While The Hospital is light on scares, it's just as engrossing as any other genre piece of this ilk. George C. Scott anchors the cast with a riveting performance that speaks to the dry, mordant tone of the story. We see the world through Dr. Bock's eyes, and it's fucking ugly. He doesn't understand how his co-workers can be so absent-minded. We've all been there, man. If The Hospital sounds depressing, that's because it is. But it's also very funny. It should appeal to anyone with an off-kilter sense of humor.

Diana Rigg plays a Native American peacenik who puts faith in superstition above science. At one point, she has a shaman "harness the power of thunder" to heal her ailing father. Needless to say, she and Dr. Bock have a few interesting conversations. Before you can say "tricyclic anticonvulsant," the two opposites attract and fall in love overnight. I didn't buy their forced relationship, and in the grand scheme of things, it seemed awfully unnecessary. This film didn't need an amorous subplot. Of course, The Hospital was released in 1971, so it comes with the territory, I suppose.

The ending is clever. The narrative builds to a natural climax, capping off an intelligent, well-paced character study. If I had my druthers, Rigg would have revealed more of her delicious flesh, but I'm nitpicking (seriously, that woman could have seduced a termite). Anyway, buy The Hospital. End of review.

1 comment:

  1. Just added it to the Netflix instant view queue thanks to your recommendation. Sounds like my kind of flick.