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The Scribbler (2014)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/21/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/15/2014
In the past, we've discussed how one most likely shouldn't look to movies for reflections of reality. But, having said that, most movies are based on our world in some way and, in that sense, they should try and accurately portray what real life is like. One area where this is especially true is the field of mental health care, which the movies rarely get right. Most psychiatrists don't actually counsel patients. Most mental hospitals don't look like prisons. And yet, the movies continue to show these things, which most likely leads to some disillusioned patients who have based their expectations of care upon the media. The Scribbler is sort of a science-fiction movie, but that doesn't justify the truly bizarre ideas about psychiatric care which it has.
As The Scribbler opens, Suki (Katie Cassidy) arrives at Juniper Towers, a halfway house for patients who have been under the care of Dr. Sinclair (Billy Campbell). The place is a large, unkempt building which is infamous for patient suicides. We learn that Suki has Dissociative Identity Disorder (Known to many as Multiple Personalities) and that Dr. Sinclair has been treating her with something called "The Siamese Burn", in which a device helps to rid Suki of her various personalities. One of these personalities is known as "The Scribbler", as it loves to write messages everywhere -- and they are written in reverse. As Suki gets settled in, she meets some of her eccentric neighbors; Alice (Michelle Trachtenberg), who guards the stairwell; Emily (Ashlynn Yennie), who refuses to wear clothes; Cleo (Gina Gershon), who dresses like a gypsy; and Hogan (Garret Dillahunt), the only male on the floor. Although she is skeptical, Suki decides to follow Dr. Sinclair's orders and use the machine, which knocks her unconscious. When she awakens, she finds ominous notes written on the wall and that crimes have been committed. Thus begins a mystery of what is really going on in Juniper Towers.
Allow me to go ahead and get my primary point of the way. Do patients who leave inpatient psychiatric treatment go to halfway houses? Yes. Are some of these facilities lacking in amenities? (To put it nicely.) Yes. However, the idea of a physician discharging his patients to a dilapidated building with no supervision seems a bit unrealistic. Add in the fact that patients have been known to leap to their deaths and you've got the making of a liability that no doctor would undertake. And then you have the idea that Suki is administering some sort of modified ECT at home and you've got a movie which one must consider to be fantasy in order to just make it through the first few minutes.
It's ironic that The Scribbler concerns patients with mental illness, as the film presents as something which was assembled by someone dealing with a thought disorder. The film's plot (more on that in a moment) gets thrown to the side in favor of...well, nothing. Based on a graphic novel by Dan Schaffer, who is also credited with writing the screenplay, (and who also wrote the disappointingDoghouse), the movie has a disjointed feel from the outset. The story begins at the end (one of my biggest pet peeves) with Police Detective Moss (Michael Imperioli) and Psychologist Silk (Eliza Dushku) investigating the crimes in the building. From there, we follow Suki through a series of seemingly random scenes, most of which are given on-screen titles, which only adds to the confusion. The movies raises a lot of questions, but doesn't do enough to make us care about the answers. The last few minutes of the film are completely ludicrous and feel of if they have come from a different movie. The film doesn't get any help from its technical side. The sets look a lot like sets (you feel as if the walls are going to topple over at any moment and there's more green lighting here than in all three Matrix movies combined.
The frustrating thing about The Scribbler is that there are actually some intriguing ideas. I love the concept concerning Suki's multiple personalities. She's confused as to her is the "real" her and she's scared that using the machine will destroy her original personality. There should have been much more anxiety and suspense attached to this notion. The idea that Suki loses control when she's knocked-out isn't very original, but more could have been done with it. If Juniper Towers had seemed the least bit realistic and the other tenants hadn't been caricatures, a lot more could have been done with the story. One can't accuse John Suits for eschewing these plot-points in favor of exploitation, as the movie is relatively tame.
You may have noticed some familiar names while perusing this review, but don't get too excited, as only Cassidy and Dillahunt have a lot of screen time. And for those of you who did a double-take when you saw Sasha Grey listed in the credits, take it down a notch, as she's only on-screen for a moment and she's clothed. Most of the talent here is wasted, and even with her heavy makeup and short hair, Cassidy looks much different than she has in the past. The Scribbler wants to take this recognizable cast and a create a movie that is a wild trip. But, trust me, it's not even worth a trip to RedBox.
The Scribbler thinks that it's some sort of super-hero movie on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of XLRator Media. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 31 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, and you can't ignore those greens. The picture is somewhat dark in some shots. The picture never looks soft and the depth is acceptable. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done and show good separation. The surround channels reveal some individual sounds and the various action sequences deliver audio which is distinct from the front. The subwoofer effects kick in during Suki's "burn" scenes.
The only extra on The Scribbler Blu-ray Disc is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long