It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Having flunked his final exam on medical ethics, a student named Adam gets an e-mail asking him to venture to a remote, snowbound cabin where, his correspondent promises, he will share in revolutionary advances in medical science. Adam (Christian Oliver) takes the bait, is met by a young woman, driven to a remote mountain road, handed cross-country skis and told he can find the doctor's cabin by following the red ribbons on the trees. After a long, cold journey, he finds the cabin, occupied by young Dr. Vick (Dean Stapleton).
Adam discovers (although not before being choked to death, left outside to freeze and then being brought back to life) that Dr. Vick has invented a serum that offers immortality. Death has no dominion in the mountain cabin, where Adam will be killed several more times (shot, hit by a snowmobile, etc.) and brought back to life several more times. These transitions are necessary because when Vick gets things wrong, it's necessary to kill Adam and leave him dead while making improvements.
I was reminded of "Scream and Scream Again," in which every time the victim woke up, another body part was missing. In "Subject Two," it doesn't much matter. There's not even anything special about the brain, apparently, and you don't need it to think. But Adam complains bitterly to Vick that he cannot feel: He lacks both physical and emotional sensations, he says, but since he feels so much anger about that, he must not be quite correct. Still, there's one consolation: He doesn't have those migraines anymore.
"Subject Two" is a horror film crossed with a workshop on the theory and practice of an earlier doctor, Frankenstein. When you bring the dead to life, what do you have then? Something that is alive? Something that is dead but can walk and talk and think? Would you want to be immortal if you had to keep being killed all the time? Is life worth living for the undead?
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