An expansive opening, involving a drone shot of a whole community and the discovery of a man hanged in a derelict industrial facility, Antidote homes in on young mum Sharyn (Ashlynn Yennie) – who wakes up with abdominal pains and is driven by her caring beardie husband (Yorgos Karamihos) to hospital, where it seems she’ll have to have her appendix out. Then, she wakes up again, not in hospital but in a drab, dingy, sinister experimental facility where we’re going to spend most of the rest of this increasingly claustrophobic horror movie.
Dr Aaron Hellenbach (Louis Mandylor) keeps giving Sharyn reassuring but unhelpful explanations, and she’s oddly not strapped down or locked up so she can limp out of her room and run into other patients who have similarly wound up here, subject to a series of cruel experiments that might lead to a cure for death in the long run but immediately are just gruesome. On the pattern of many trapped-in-a-facility horrors – before they made movies about cruel asylums, they wrote novels about unholy convents – the protagonist keeps asking to see or communicate with her loved ones and is given half-plausible excuses … her escape attempts are thwarted by circumstance or design, with even a brief venture outside the walls of the mad laboratory frustrating … and weird medical procedures are carried out for no apparent reason. Also layered in are a few flashbacks and revelations – hey, remember that hanging guy in the beginning? – as it turns out suburban mom Sharyn has a dubious past as a drug addict, while her husband is the possibly unethical cop who investigated the death of her old boyfriend and then married her.
Director Peter Daskaloff, who also wrote with Matthew Toronto, treads familiar ground with Antidote – it’s effective, but by the numbers, and segues in the third act from one kind of you’ve-seen-it-too-often-before horror movie into another overworked sub-genre. Yennie, from the Human Centipede films, is fine in the lead, but the film is stolen by husky Mandylor, a perennial supporting player (probably best-known for the My Big Fat Greek Wedding franchise) given his shot at playing lead villain and nicely underplaying every creepy nuance.