Organ harvesting has been a plot device in horror films like Turistas, action films like Pound Of Flesh and hybrids like The Dark Soul. Writer/director Marc Morgenstern gives us his spin on it with Vitals, filmed in 2013 and now available on streaming services.
Richard Carson (Christopher Showerman, George Of The Jungle 2, Astro) and his wife Jane (Charlene Amoia, Live Evil, A Demon Within) take a trip to India to work on their failing marriage. However, they have bigger problems now. Richard wakes up in a tub full of ice in an abandoned hotel missing a kidney. His wife is in the other room, apparently next on their list. They must put aside their differences and combine their skills, he’s an electrician, she’s a doctor, to escape before their captors and The Surgeon (Tim Russ, 5th Passenger) return.
Vitals is set in India but mostly filmed in one location in LA. Which is a neat reversal on all the foreign films I’ve seen that use one or two shots of an American location to try to convince the viewer it was shot on location. Apart from being a smart move budget-wise, keeping most of the film confined like this builds a claustrophobic atmosphere.
Unfortunately, Vitals wastes a lot of that with a slowly paced script that runs to long It tries to redeem itself with a couple of twists, but a lot of people will see them coming. The running time should have been closer to 90 minutes instead of 104. I’m surprised nobody noticed this given the films long trek to release.
Also, Vitals suffers from a problem that films using this plot all have. Why let the victim wake up? Never mind escaping and getting you caught they could as easily damage their remaining organs in the attempt. Keep them sedated. Or on life support like they did in Coma, 41 years ago.
In the end, Vitals really isn’t a bad movie. It’s one of those films that’s just kind of there. Something to stream on a rainy afternoon. It’s available on Amazon and Vimeo. You can check for updates on its Facebook page and website.