Plot synopsis: A detective must fight for the redemption of his soul when he finds himself trapped in a mysterious hospital that serves as a gateway between heaven and hell.
NOTE: There will be spoilers in this review.
I wanted to like this film. Which, in all honesty, isn’t the most auspicious way to start off a review. Convergence, to its credit does try hard to be likeable. The problem is…it just isn’t.
The plot itself sounds straightforward. Ben (Clayne Crawford), an Atlanta detective in 1999, is called in on his day off to investigate a bombing and is caught in a second blast which lands him in the hospital. Ben’s police captain, Saul, is there with him, and tells him not to leave his room. There are signs everywhere early on that things aren’t what they seem, but Ben seemingly misses them. This includes a nurse dressed in a traditional 1940s nurse costume with an old-fashioned southern accent who thinks that the Yankees are a football team. The Yankees were a football team–in 1946.
The hospital itself is almost completely empty, with only a flimsy explanation of why this is given by the ‘40s nurse. Again Ben seems unconcerned, more interested in trying to find a way to contact his wife. Understandably, the writer (who is also the director, Drew Hall) doesn’t want to give everything away too quickly, but it comes off less suspenseful, and more frustrating. It becomes more difficult to suspend disbelief as Ben continually ignores the strange signs around him–along with a Hospital Guard who would prefer to go by the name “Grace”.
Yes, things get heavy handed quickly.
Things get convoluted and confusing from this point on. It is revealed that the hospital is indeed a ‘purgatory’ of sorts–people must come to terms with themselves and find ‘grace’ before they will be allowed to move on to Heaven. Interestingly enough, there is no mention of Hell, or what will happen if they fail–only that they might be stuck there for years.
It isn’t going to be easy to find grace for Ben, though–the man who planted the bomb that killed him is in the hospital with him. His name is Daniel (Ethan Embry), and he used to be a member of Ben’s parents’ church, which was in fact the first bombing location. Because of this, Ben has a high incentive to track down and deal with Daniel.
What could have been an interesting battle of competing philosophies–what it means to be a non-believer, the choices we make and how those choices define us–is instead thrown away for gun fights, torture porn and bloody scenes. I’m still confused as to how people can be murdered and tortured in purgatory, actually–we’re never given the rules of how purgatory-physics works.
Rules are incredibly important in horror/sci-fi films. These films exist outside the normal world, and thereby play by different rules. For example, we all know the rules of Nightmare on Elm Street– die in the dream, die in real life. Rules give viewers a way to fully immerse themselves into a film, without getting lost. For whatever reason, the writer Drew Hall decided to leave these rules completely out, or only give vague hints. For example, Daniel has the capability to capture people within purgatory who seem to have no faith and ‘turn’ them over to his side by means of torture. We see this happen with the nurse and a few other minor characters. How this actually is possible, we aren’t given an answer–it just happens.
The chapel within the Hospital is also paramount to the plot; we are told that it only opens when someone is ready to receive ‘grace’. It eventually opens for three people–and when they pass into it, they disappear. All three of those people made sacrifices that would deem them worthy of saving. However, the ‘turned’ nurse is killed while in the chapel after attempting to murder someone–and she also disappears. There is no indication that she has been saved, so why did she disappear? Ben fights Daniel and the other baddies in the Chapel later so it’s clear that only grace-chosen people get plucked out. Basically, the movie set a rule, then breaks it. It only adds to the confusion of this movie, and the general frustration of the viewer.
Another ‘rule’ set out by the film: apparently ghosts can kill people in the living world. Because yes, we find out that Ben and Daniel are very much dead, and in a very strange change of tone, we are introduced to a group of ghost hunters about three quarters of the way through the film. Throughout the film we have seen strange black-ghostly creatures wandering through the hospital, but had been given no explanation up until now. They are actually the ghost hunters–and Daniel kills two of them..somehow. Again, we are given no explanation how he can exert force on the physical, living world, but we are expected to accept it as truth.
The entire ghost hunter element and its plotline feels needlessly tacked on, and adds even more confusion to an already convoluted plot. One of the ghost hunters is a medium who encountered Ben when she was a child, and the film attempts to make us feel a bond between the two of them– but at this point the viewer simply wants to know how this movie is every going to find it’s ending. When it does, the resolution is incredibly bleak, despite the writer’s attempt at a happy ending in the ‘real’ world.
While this movie has some interesting ideas and strong acting from both Ethan Embry and Clayne Crawford (who I always enjoyed in Rectified)– it is let down by a weak script that truly doesn’t know what it is trying to say, and feels like it is going in circles. While this movie wanted to be about convergence, it seemed it could never fully put the pieces into place.
Convergence comes to DVD and VOD today, February 9th.