Jack (Henry Frost, Mudbound, Sinfidelity) was left scarred, mentally and physically by a fiery car crash. A new tissue regeneration drug called Obsidian might b able to help with the physical ones and Jack has been offered a place in its clinical trial. Unfortunately, that means dealing with Dr. Walsh (Frank R. Wilson, Blood Lodge) who he has some unpleasant history with.
Since the drug may cause blurred vision it’s an inpatient test. But not at a clinic or research facility. The test subjects, Jack, Mick (Hick Cheramie, Money Plane), Iris (Olivia Peck, The Black Book), Eileen (Alana Rose) and several others, will be staying at the doctor’s isolated home.
Obsidian doesn’t waste any time getting things set up. An isolated house filled with people who are mostly strangers and a drug with some scary potential side effects. What could possibly go wrong? Considering rabidly homophobic Alan (David E. McMahon, Teacher Shortage, The Wild Man: Skunk Ape) is already calling Chase (Barry Harrison Jr.) a faggot within minutes of their arrival, probably quite a lot.
More importantly, writer/director Erica Summers (Loverboy, Mr. White) gives us a glimpse of something in the doctor’s shed. Something he says isn’t there. So we know he’s got something to hide.
I’m not sure what the budget for Obsidian was, but it was obviously extremely low. Sadly they try working around it with several montages set to cringingly bad bad pop songs. They could easily have been replaced with some dialogue giving us insight into the film’s minor characters. Considering the film runs an hour and forty minutes there’s no need for them anyway. Much of Obsidian’s second act could actually be dumped without much loss. Repeated flashbacks to Jack’s accident, again set to music, and dialogue that would be better suited to a drama about people in rehab abound. Apart from some background on Iris and Mick, it all feels like padding.
Around the hour mark things start to pick up. This is good because I was beginning to think I was watching a medical drama being passed off as a horror movie. Granted Obsidian shifts into crime film territory with the business between Mick and Finn (Tom Proctor, The Devil Below, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers) before it circles back, but at least something happens.
It’s not until the last twenty minutes that we get what we tuned in for and Obsidian’s side effects make themselves known. The result is some messy body horror and monster rampage that must have eaten a large chunk of whatever budget the film had. It picked up a “Best Gore” award at the Thing in the Basement Horror Festival and it’s easy to see why. Summers and Ashley Barton deserve praise for what they pulled off here.
The only problem is, by this point, many viewers will have lost interest assuming they haven’t turned it off already. Summers really should have trimmed about fifteen minutes, if not a little more, out of the dialogue in the script. At seventy to eighty minutes Obsidian would have worked nicely as a feature. At one hundred and one, it drags badly. The film also takes a kick to its credibility when we find out just what happened between Jack and Dr. Walsh. There’s really no way you can get me to believe Jack would have agreed to be part of this trial given their history.
I went into Obsidian hoping for some nasty medical mayhem along the lines of early Cronenberg. And I’m still tempted to give it a thumbs up for what it eventually delivers but there’s just too much holding it back. If you want to take a chance, keep a finger on the fast forward button and you may have a better experience than I did.
Obsidian is available on VOD and Digital from Midnight Releasing. You can check their website or the film’s Facebook page for more information. If you want a physical copy of Obsidian, you can go to the film’s website.