Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Sender (1982)

A young man wakes on the side of the road and proceeds to stroll into a lake with a letter jacket full of rocks (something that will stick out later as we learn he is a momma's boy shut-in with uncontrollable telepathic powers so it is unlikely he was also any high school's star receiver). He is rescued and transported to a mental health facility with no memory of who he is or why specifically he wanted to kill himself. Dr. Farmer, a resident psychologist takes to him until she finds him snooping around her house one night. The problem is that John Doe 83, as he is referred to, was in the locked down facility all night and could not have escaped.

A quick note: He is referred to as John Doe 83 despite the fact that I counted maybe 7 residents in the entire facility. Granted, maybe they never recycled names and there were at some point 82 other nameless loons, but I digress...

Clearly, there is something special about John though Dr. Farmer's main interest remains figuring out who he really is. Presumably, this mystery would be solved as his mother shows up in Farmer's office one night, but she is rather obtuse and then leaves suddenly. I really don't know if this is spoiler material or not, but seeing as I can't imagine anyone not figuring it out immediately, let me just say, the mother is dead. Dr. Farmer is not so quick to notice though as they have several strange encounters before she finally picks it up.

Meanwhile, John Doe's issue seems to be that his dreams and the emotions that cause them become real and affect those around him without his control. This leads to mass chaos within the mental ward throughout the film and allows the extras to stretch their acting chops with the classic "crazed mental patient" routine. There is one fantastic scene where the head doctor goes against Farmer's wishes and attempts shock therapy on John Doe leading to everyone in the room being catapulted back away from him in super slow motion (Nevermind that the Matrix movies tried to ruin it for everyone; slow motion can be used effectively).

As a whole, I cannot really recommend The Sender. There is a long lull in the middle part of the film where I was basically checking my watch to see how long it would take Dr. Farmer to catch up to what was evident early on and then there really was not even a definitive conclusion. John Doe must resist his mother's ghost from luring him into death and does so, but then is immediately released from the hospital despite the fact that he still has those uncontrollable dreams that cause serious havoc unchecked. The hospital's new motto: "Just go bother someone else now..."

I also forgot to mention the religious subtext as John's mother apparently thought he was the second coming of Jesus Christ because of his abilities though I guess its only fair as the film also completely forgot about this by the third act.


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