There are tons of low-budget indie thrillers out there that deal with strong philosophical concepts in an inventive way and surprise audiences through their craft despite being bogged down by their limitations. Although director Michael Winnick’s lackluster track record didn’t leave much to expect from his latest thriller venture, Disquiet started with a proper atmospheric, imaginative buildup, but having a poor script, glaringly bad performances, and a clichéd narrative structure left a bitter taste, proving it doesn’t belong among those aforementioned ambitious ventures. Exploring the psychological turbulence of a person in jeopardy, Disquiet questions the legitimacy of reality and fiction in a surreal manner but falls short in execution and ends up as a bad adaptation of much superior supernatural thrillers that have aired throughout the past decade on the small screen.
How Did Sam End Up In The Hospital?
Disquiet wastes no time introducing the protagonist of the narrative, Sam, a workaholic, promiscuous man in his mid-30s who is struggling with his tech start-up. Sam and his wife Sarah are expecting their first child, and the latter is still concerned about Sam’s past tendencies toward giving into temptation. Torn amidst his responsibilities and guilt for past actions, Sam’s already overburdened mind, along with his habit of texting while driving, causes a major distraction—one that almost costs him his life in a major accident. Sam is rushed to the hospital as his wife watches over him woefully.
Upon waking up, Sam finds himself in the ICU ward, which, along with the entire hospital corridor, looks rather empty, darkened, and ominous. He notices a shriveled old man lying comatose in a bed in the same room and gets a bit panicked. Sam tries to call the attendants using his call button, which receives no response. Deciding to check up on the situation, Sam detaches all the connected medical devices from his body and goes to prepare to go outside when suddenly he notices the old man absent from his bed. However, before Sam gets the chance to think about the situation, he is inexplicably attacked by the old man. As his unhinged attacker almost overwhelms him in strength, Sam struggles to get control over the situation and, getting his hands on a scalpel, stabs the old man to death. As he returns to his ICU chamber once again, Sam sees the old man lying in his bed all the same. To make matters even more confusing, a nurse appears out of nowhere, and moments later, both she and the old man vanish into thin air. Shocked out of his wits, Sam gathers his belongings, sees no available network connectivity at the place, and decides to run away. Sam arrives at the north section elevator of the hospital, where he is once again chased by the old man, from whom he narrowly escapes.
Who Are Monica And Carter? Why Did They Become Stuck Inside The Hospital?
Viewers are introduced to two characters entangled in a similar fate as Sam. Monica, who went through breast implantation surgery in the same hospital, wakes up to find herself surrounded by three mangled-up female patients who threaten to attack her. Hearing her cries for help, Sam rescues her, and soon the duo finds out another unfortunate person is stuck inside the hospital. Carter, who was a victim of unjustified racial profiling, was shot down by a racist cop and has been in the hospital ever since. Although Monica assumes Carter to be a criminal, which leads to an uncomfortable situation, Sam states that they need to stick together for survival. The trio hit upon a plan to find an exit from the hospital and soon rushed through the stairs after being chased by the patients. The set piece during the chase scene looks imaginative, as the hallways of the hospital look nightmarishly lit and eerie.
Sam gets separated from the other two at the staircase and gets pulled out of there by a hospital orderly, who assaults him. He is saved in the nick of time by Dr. Lilith, and as she carries an unconscious Sam to safety, a paraplegic elderly man named Virgil greets her, and the duo has a disagreement regarding Sam’s past. It seems neither of them are ordinary human beings like the characters we have met so far, as they seem to have in-depth knowledge about Sam’s life.
What Does Sam Find Out About The Hospital?
After waking up, Sam starts to look for an exit on his own and meets the aforementioned racist cop, Frank, who was injured during the previous altercation, landing him in the hospital. Hearing Sam’s speculation about escaping the hospital, Frank asks him to look outside, which he does, only to find pitch darkness surrounding the hospital. Sam wonders whether a blackout has happened due to a hacker or terrorist attack, which might explain the communication problem as well. Moments later, Frank inexplicably vanishes as well, leaving Sam to scout the area with a wrench in his hand.
Sam meets Virgil, who appears to have a kindly, comforting presence, and although he isn’t able to share the whereabouts of the place, he insists that getting to higher ground might provide them with some answers. Lilith meets the duo a short while later. The trio heads for the exit when, once again, the burly orderly attacks them, apparently abducting both Virgil and Lilith. During these events, Sam also spots a disfigured kid who asks him for help but vanishes, just as suddenly as she appeared in the first place.
As Sam reaches the lobby of the hospital, he is reunited with Monica and, moments later, with Lillith, who apparently survived and killed the orderly as well. The trio meets Frank, who is desperately trying to find an exit route from the hospital but failing in every attempt to do so. Carter returns after thoroughly scouring the hospital and speculates that they have been drugged and are hence going through hallucinations, while Monica is of the opinion that they aren’t alive to begin with. After a round of heated arguments with Frank, as Carter calls the cop out for his racist tendencies, Frank ends up gunning him down and forces Lily, whom he suspects for some reason, to show him the route to exit. As they appear at the elevator to reach the basement parking area, from where Lily states she entered the hospital, Frank gets abducted by an unseen entity.
‘Disquiet’ Ending Explained: Did Sam Escape The Hospital?
Seeing the chain of consecutive horrific events unfolding in front of their eyes, Monica panics and hides, and Sam consoles her, ultimately convincing her to continue their search for an exit. As Sam, Lily, and Monica reach the basement, Monica spots the morgue and curiously enters. To her surprise, she finds out that her surgery has been successful, although there are no scars on her body. The corpses of the deceased ones at the morgue suddenly rise up, and viewers learn these are the same persons who died during the events that led Sam, Carter, Monica, and Frank to get hospitalized. All of a sudden, Frank returns and forces the group at gunpoint to continue their journey through the basement, and after spotting the ominous-looking parking area, he goes in on his own.
An unhinged, violent Carter appears out of nowhere and rushes to attack Frank, only to get killed by him once again. Frank is pulled inside the parking area by an unknown force, and Monica meets the same fate soon. It turns out, somehow, Lily is behind all this, and as she moves towards his last victim – Sam, Virgil appears inside the elevator and takes Sam with him. Sam visits the newborn ward, where he is visited by a vision of his wife, who urges him to return home to his family.
During their conversation, Sam learns this place is a metaphysical plane – a limbo that exists between life and death. Along with him, others are entrapped in the same place, and the only way they can escape is through their own determination and free will. Lily and Virgil represent the positive and negative impulses human beings feel in their most desperate situations, and Sam also gets to know that dying in this realm means getting reincarnated again and again in a more deranged state. Sam realizes that Carter’s resurrection, the previous entities, and also the old man who attacked him the first time are his own future selves. As Sam and Virgil head towards the roof, they come across the little girl Sam had earlier, and this time, adhering to Virgil’s advice, Sam approaches her and assures her that he will help her escape.
Once again, Sam is attacked by his old self in front of the elevator, leading him to be trapped in another vision from where Virgil rescues him. Finally learning his lesson about elevators not being the way to approach the exit, Sam decides to take the stairs and bids farewell to Virgil, who still has Carter and other souls to guide him out of this limbo. At the stairway, Sam is visited by Lillith, who tries to tempt him to take the basement exit, stating that Monica and Frank chose that path, and viewers see in the physical world that they passed away. Sam resists the temptation and goes to the roof of the room with the girl. Sam encourages her to go to the light-bathed roof and follows her as well. As the little girl wakes up in the physical world, Sam’s wife, Sarah, urges the comatose Sam to return, professing her feelings for him. In limbo, Sam receives a text from his wife, stating the same; as he reciprocates her feelings through a text and walks into the light, Sam returns to life in the physical world, and Disquiet‘s ending highlights that the text reached his wife’s phone at the same time.
The most direct interpretation of Disquiet is focused on the binaries of good and evil, as well as biblical myth. The influence of Virgil and Lillith can be seen as the presence of the classic guiding spirits, much like what we see in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, where good and bad angels continue to advise or provoke the titular doctor into performing a number of things and act like catalysts instead of direct performers. The most apparent allusion is the biblical myth, as Lillith is considered the primordial demonic entity, the first fallen human in some versions of Christian myth, who gave in to temptation and has lured mankind to damnation ever since.
Virgil acts like the Roman poet, the character of the same name in Dante’s Inferno, who guided Dante through nine circles of hell. The basement exit thereby represents hell, while the roof stands for heaven, and the color scheme of red mist in the former and bright light in the latter’s backdrop also suggests such. No wonder easy access to the elevator was constantly getting obstructed; in the path of righteousness, apparently, shortcuts aren’t an option. In fact, by the end, we aren’t sure whether Sam actually woke up in real life or if it was a fantastical vision he saw while in heaven. Lastly, Lillith’s characterization is pejorative, along with all the representation of female characters, which we think the director should have looked into while making a very flimsy and on-your-face adaptation of medieval allegorical tales.
Disquiet is a 2023 thriller film directed by Michael Winnick.