Coma (1978)

Coma (1978), written and directed by Michael Crichton.

Why are so many patients suffering from unexplained comas? And why is it dangerous to ask?

A methodically developed medical thriller, realistic in the hospital details, as you would expect from Michael Crichton, MD. The direction and camera work seem a bit better than what I recall of his other films, but it could have been tightened up quite a bit. Too much goopy soap opera: doctors Genevieve Bujold and Michael Douglas must be in love -- they walk on the beach together.

Hospitals are natural thriller settings. The procedures and prospects are scary, and the doctors are intimidating even when not villainous. It's really disturbing when even they don't know what's going wrong. Paranoia always arrives eventually.

In the end it's a message film: the dangers of trusting the authorities, the evil of a system that sees people as spare parts.

With Richard Widmark and Rip Torn. Young fresh faces: Tom Selleck and Ed Harris.

Jerry Goldsmith's score really helps amp up the action and tension in the second half.

Available on Blu-ray.