The perils of joining a medical research programme

The perils of joining a medical research programme A scene from Double Blind

Whenever anyone signs up for a research experiment in a film – especially if they’re locked in the kind of laboratory you associate with David Cronenberg – you get the sneaky feeling that things are going to go horribly wrong. Soon.

Such suspicions are copper fastened when the person conducting it says things like, “You have nothing to fear”, or, “We have your best interests at heart”.

Or: “There will be a cash bonus for those of you who last the pace.”

The experiment involves a stark choice: Stay awake or die. Ominous-looking capsules are ingested, causing personality changes, hallucinations, contortions that are reminiscent of Linda Blair in The Exorcist, and on one occasion even levitation.

I don’t generally associate Ireland with horror movies. Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, of course, and Neil Jordan made a big impact with Interview with the Vampire in 1994, but it’s only in the past five years or so that the genre has really taken off in this country.

Debut director Ian Hunt-Duffy stumps up nicely with Double Blind (16), adopting a ‘Ship of Fools’ format with his band of gullible victims who believe the clinical trial will solve their money problems.

He uses most of the expectable tropes – the complacent know-all who thinks everything will go hunky dory, the dark horse who’s a possible traitor, the spunky heroine (think Genevieve Bujold from Coma) who’s cynical enough to make you think she’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on behind those mysterious walls.

Before that happens, of course, we know we’re going to see lots of people with tomato ketchup on their bodies as they meet their maker. Because this motley crew of misfortunates aren’t really all that different from the mice trapped in cages in the self-same lab.

Gird your loins as our British Sigourney Weaver (great performance from Millie Brady) puts her thinking cap on and realises that herself and her colleagues aren’t much more than “data points on a spread sheet” – to put it mildly.

She’s intent on finding out who’s pulling the strings in the futuristic research facility as the clock winds down to a personal Armageddon and the door to freedom seems ever farther and farther away.

I saw this film at a morning showing. I’m always brave at morning shows. The problems tend to arise when you’re out at the coal shed that night and a cat squawks beside you, causing you to jump roughly five feet in the air.

If you’re watching it at night, as I expect you will be, there are various ways you can deal with the scary bits. You could crawl under the seat, for instance. Or jump into the lap of the person sitting beside you. Or put your hands over your eyes and view them from a tiny crevice between your fingers.

The third option is the most user friendly and the one least likely to result in you doing any physical damage to yourself.