Who Killed Bambi? is a French medical thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen…but in the end, left me slumped back in my seat wondering, What JUST happened?
Isabelle (Sophie Quinton), a cute young nursing student who is smart but nervous, catches the attention of the bizarre young Dr. Philipp (Laurent Lucas) when she passes out in front of him. When she awakes, he calls her Bambi. No, not as in "well spank me and call me Bambi." At least, not at first. He claims he's comparing her to the Disney character. But he's so weird with his sullen look and shifty eyes, that she immediately doesn't trust him. Also on staff are Isabelle's boyfriend, an orderly, and her cousin, another nurse. In the dark, brooding, lonely halls of the hospital, things are not right. Anesthesia fails to work when patients are to be operated on. A pretty young patient disappears. But we, the audience, know why. It's shown right from the start that the creepy looking Dr. Philipp IS a creep, and is doing nasty things to patients—drugging them, and then violating them. As Isabelle struggles with Cooper Syndrome, an ear deformity that has her constantly passing out (and dreaming very trippy dreams) she begins to suspect of Dr. Philippe what we already know, and so begins a twisted mind screwing game between the two—but little mystery solving for us.
The movie definitely draws you in, but leaves you to wander aimlessly after that. It felt sort of DePalma-esque, sort of Argento-esque to me in the way it was filmed (it's very sleek) which left me with high expectations, but it never reaches a level of shock or terror, and never offers any scares. The suspense never builds to any great crescendo. You do feel as alone in the empty halls as Isabelle, in part because all of the other characters play absolutely no significant role in the film, and for the most part, didn't even need to be there for the film to go on the way it does. And then, as the ending approached, I was hoping for some incredible, intense denouement—but got nothing. There were just no surprises, and I felt like I had been let down by what I thought was a movie that was going to truly freak me out. Heck, I was waiting for Bambi to die, and that never quite worked out the way I wanted. The film turned into a very run of the mill medical thriller, and it could have been so much more than that.
The film is 2:35:1, letterboxed, which I actually think helped make it look so impressive. The subtitles were conveniently on the letterboxing black and not the film itself, and the extra wide ratio brought into focus the long desolate halls. As for the print itself, tiny specks can be noticed periodically, but it's not distracting, and surprising considering how good the rest of the print looks. There's a hint of edge enhancement, but the color is excellent with natural tint, rich darks and sharp images and depth. It's quite a cinematic presentation, especially in progressive scan.
The 2.0 sound is crisp and clear, with just minor distortion during bass-filled moments. The separation is very subtle, with light left/right travel.
There are 12 chapter breaks, an original trailer for the film, and trailers for four more Strand releases, mostly gay films: Proteus, Testosterone, Swoon, Open Your Heart. There is not an option to turn off subtitles, they come on automatically.
Who Killed Bambi? poses a compelling question with its title, and it's a visually eerie film at times, but in the end, this French medical thriller doesn't payoff…or even leave you wondering what the answer to the question is, because the question turns out to be more rhetorical than literal….