Let’s go to Egypt.
This might be the first Egyptian horror film we’ve looked at on this blog. I’m ignorant of the status of Egypt’s film productions, but I would happily see more.
We begin the film following a young couple who are fraught due to familial tensions. There are some cultural differences (I assume) that honestly rubbed me the wrong way. Our boyfriend, Nasr jokes about smacking his girlfriend and is constantly telling her how to feel. He her actions make him feel are more important to him than how she feels.
Omneya, a deaf hairdresser is hard to read. His mother seems to have mocked her and she is rightfully upset by this. In order to fix this, Nasr is going to deal some drugs so they can afford a wedding. It would have helped to see the two of them happier before all of this tension. They don’t seem like a great couple at the start of the film, so I had little investment in them.
Obviously, things go south with this plan, but not in an expected way. Our couple suffers a terrible car crash and are taken to a hospital where things get even worse. Now, they have to fight for their lives to escape the twisted doctors.
The oddest part of this movie is how absolutely awful everyone is to Omneya for being deaf. I can understand how some random assholes might be jerks, but it makes no sense for the nurses and doctors to be so flustered by a deaf patient. I mean, seriously? The film is less horrifying than it is simply obnoxious.
Nasr is missing and the hospital staff refuse to engage with her about this. Sure, there is a plot reason for this, but the way they handle it seems to be trying for a Twilight Zone vibe and doesn’t quite get there.
The reasoning for what is happening is obvious (in that it is given away before the movie is a third of the way over). I’m not going to spoil it here because you might want to see it on your own. The problem is, that once the cards are on the table the mysterious elements of the film basically disappear. Further, given what is happening and where it is, the odd way the hospital staff behaves makes even less sense. The obstinacy of the side characters hints towards a larger conspiracy, but it actually seems to have just been a way to cut corners.
The film is familiar. We have a couple under duress and trying to escape a danger. You’ve seen this before. Whether you’re a fan of these types of movies will dramatically increase or decrease your enjoyment of it. For me, I’m a little tired of this type of narrative. Sure, 122 does it mostly well, but it doesn’t add anything original to the mix, either.
There comes a point in these movies when the bad guy seems to so far off the rails you have to wonder how the hell they are going to get away with it. This movie crosses this point at about thirty minutes. They wanted to ramp up the tension, but there are only two ways these movies end, so there isn’t much to be in suspense about.
122 is limited by the genre it exists in. I found it to be a little tedious (it just seemed too familiar to me). They needed to add something unique to make is stand out. Not a failure, but ultimately forgettable.
Stream if you like survival horror.