Disquiet (2023) Review
Disquiet is defined as “a feeling of anxiety or worry”, and it’s something one often feels when in a hospital, even if they’re just visiting. So imagine what Sam (Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Dangerous Game: The Legacy Murders, The Good Neighbor) is feeling when he wakes up in a hospital with nobody answering the call button. Even worse, the patient in the next bed tries to strangle him, then chases him into the hall where Sam stabs him repeatedly with a scalpel, only for the body to vanish.
When a nurse does arrive, she vanishes as soon as he looks away. And then the psycho guy returns, even ripping open the roof of the elevator trying to get at Sam. After escaping once again, he has flashbacks to the accident that put him in the hospital.
That all takes place in Disquiet’s first fifteen minutes. Give writer/director Michael Winnick (Shadow Puppets, Code of Honor) credit for getting things off to a fast start. It’s an extremely confusing start, but at least it’s not a boring one. Also, to his credit, he never really lets the pace slack too much as the film goes on. He’s good at avoiding long static dialogue scenes and keeping the characters and the plot moving along.
Elsewhere, Monica (Elyse Levesque, The Darker the Lake, Slumber Party Slaughter) is about to get a boob job. “Nose, ass, lips, just my tits to go” she quips as the anaesthesia kicks in. But just as she goes under, the surgeon’s face turns to something barely human. She wakes up alone, only to have a trio of figures come up from under the bed to attack her.
Even after adding Monica, and then Carter (Trezzo Mahoro, Day of the Dead, Van Helsing) who may or may not be a criminal to the festivities, Disquiet keeps quiet and doesn’t offer any kind of explanation as to what’s happening. If you’ve seen the likes of Dark Floors, Inoperable, Fractured, and Convergence you may be having a few ideas, however.
Sam isn’t the only character to have flashbacks, and for the ones that do, they serve to fill in a bit of backstory and make the viewer question the motivations of some of them. For example, both Carter and Frank (Lochlyn Munro, Detective Knight: Independence, Riverdale) have flashbacks, but they tell two very different stories. Other characters have no flashbacks, leaving them with next to no depth.
While none of the characters besides Sam have any real depth, they are at least interesting, especially once Virgil (Garry Chalk, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Predator) and Lily (Rachelle Goulding, Wifelike, Window Theory). They all keep coming and going in and out of the film, more than once presumed dead.
While it’s interesting to watch, Disquiet isn’t particularly scary. Once you get used to the hospital being mostly empty, it isn’t particularly atmospheric and the script doesn’t do much to build tension. Winnick seems more interested in keeping the viewer curious about what’s going on than he is in keeping them in suspense and setting up a sappy ending.
It may also be due to the fact that there are some very obvious clues scattered through Disquiet for those who recognize them. Not that I’m any genius, they just happened to click with some things I’d read in high school and college. Especially the line one of the characters delivers around the one-hour mark. But with schools turning out graduates who think Mark Twain was Shania’s father, the filmmakers may have worried that a lot of people wouldn’t get it, so they spoon-feed it to the viewer in the last few minutes.
Disquiet comes off better if you look at it as more of a supernatural thriller or mystery than an actual horror film. Apart from a few jumps, you won’t be scared. But even if you’ve figured out what’s going on, you’ll probably be curious about how it ends, making it worth a one-time watch.
Paramount Pictures and SPMG will release Disquiet in select theatres as well as to VOD and Digital platforms on February 10th. If you’re looking for more films like this, FilmTagger can suggest some titles.