The streets are dark as the ambulance heads hopelessly towards the Metro General Hospital of Fulton County, the sheets of the morgue are white, and the dead man is naked but for the tag on his toe. Another John Doe to be examined by pathologist Edward Graham, the cause of death is plainly suicide, but come the morning the body has vanished before autopsy has been conducted.
Upstairs, the emergency psychiatric ward deals with the howling, bleeding and screaming crises then throws the afflicted back out on the streets, barely coping with the stream in incoming patients and with no resource to provide any semblance of long-term care, a necessary policy which conflicts with the concerns of Doctor Daniel Forrester.
Forced to remind him once again that they are an emergency facility and not a rehabilitation clinic, head of department Doctor Sarah Grey stipulates that Forrester is not to admit any more patients without her direct approval, but when an amnesiac patient is found on the ward, scarred, bruised and uncommunicative, he circumvents her authority and begins treatment.
Written and directed by Billy Senese and with its international premiere in the FrightFest strand of the Glasgow Film Festival, The Dead Centre reminds of Exorcist III in the contrast of the corridors of the modern hospital ward and the twisting paths of the minds of those held under psychiatric care for whom the most medicine can hope to do is subdue them.
Graham conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the death of the corpse which went missing from the morgue, he visits the scene of the crime and finds a sealed motel room of blood and flies and strange patterns carved into the enamel of the bath, the audience fully aware that Forrester is treating the same man back at the hospital.
His traumatic death and return having convinced him that something has come back with him, something which cannot be killed but which seeks to kill, over and over. Attempting to help this patient, Upstream Colour‘s Shane Carruth is Doctor Forrester, his personal troubles having eroded his professional detachment to the point where he finds himself believing a patient his colleagues would deem delusional.
Gypsy‘s Poorna Jagannathan attempting to balance sympathy for her friend and her duty to the hospital and the Hippocratic oath, Preacher‘s Jeremy Childs is “John Doe,” a menacing presence even in his rare moments of lucidity, a living embodiment of his burned-out home, the shell still standing while the soul has been ripped out, the dead centre of his former life which still hungers.
The Dead Centre an effective and often disturbing psychological horror which uses layers of distorted sound conveying the disorientation and desperation, like Get Out the viewer experiences the film through the eyes of a character who is not in control as the inexplicable events spiral to their inevitable conclusion.