Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Staring Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Weston, Alyssa Milano, Lauren Lee Smith, Johnny Whitworth
Directed by Marc Schoelermann
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
“I swear by Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea,
and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses …
I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone …”
— The Hippocratic Oath
The first thing that bothers me about the above oath is that in this 21st Century doctors are still swearing to Apollo and company to keep us safe. That’s no real knock on anyone’s belief system, but Apollo? Come on! Rocky kicked the shit out of him twice! Now Clubber Lang, there was a real bada… huh? Oh. Well, never mind then.
As a species one of our greatest fears is death. No matter who you are or what your faith, the thought of taking the eternal sleep has no doubt sent a shiver down your spine at least a couple of times throughout your life. Simply put, dying is gonna suck, but for me what happens to our remains is even more terrifying. We basically have two choices: Burn until turning to ash or become food for insects. Neither sits particularly well with me, but what if before we have to deal with either of those options, we’re violated further? What if the people who have sworn to protect us abused our vessels as we lay there cold and helpless. Filming us for laughs. Mocking us. Positioning us in silly or obscene positions before rifling through our innards. The notion alone is deeply disturbing, but as it turns out in Pathology, the doctors whom we trust can do a hell of a lot worse than that.
Ted Grey (Ventimiglia) is a hotshot young pathologist with a star career in his field that’s steadily on the rise. During his stay at a new hospital, he finds that his fellow co-workers are less than, shall we say, respectful of their jobs. Some of them travel in a clique and walk around as if they’re god’s gift to the field. Their leader, Jake Gallo (a deliciously evil Weston), takes a shine to Ted and decides to let him into their dark little inner circle. One that consists of lots of questionable sex, drugs, and … murder! *cues spooky music* Turns out this group has a game that they like to play: In rotation each of them kills a person as perfectly and with no immediate signs of the cause of death as they can. Then the others try to guess how they did it. As you can imagine, things get pretty out of control, and it’s not long before anyone and everyone ends up being a potential victim.
Pathology starts off strong and disturbing. The horror presented here begins as realistically as possible. The corpses and the autopsy effects will have you squirming and generally feeling queasy. There are points in the movie during which we feel like we’re seeing less a work of fiction and more a documentary on pathology itself. For that I commend the filmmakers. Then it happens. By the time the third act rears its head, a lovable Italian wearing a leather jacket and swim trunks screams “Ayyyyyyyyyyyy!” as he jumps over the proverbial shark tank. The film falls apart. Everything that was working so well in the first two acts grinds to a halt, and in its place we get stilted and nonsensical plot twists in rapid fire succession. Even the acting and dialogue fall quickly downhill. If what was used here from the actors were their best takes, I’d hate to see their worst. By the time it’s all over, you’ll find yourself wondering where the good movie you were engrossed in went.
The special features serve to confound things further. Things kick off with a pretty good commentary by director Marc Scholermann and writers/producers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who seem, despite the apparent shortcomings, very satisfied with the end result of their film. On to the featurettes. The first is a fifteen-minute making-of entitled Creating the Perfect Murder. Honestly, this was more fascinating and entertaining than the film itself. Mainly here is where we get a chance to hear from the cast and crew as they detail their experiences doing research at the L.A. County Morgue as well as get some really good and gruesome insight and looks at the film’s extensive make-up F/X. It’s really good stuff and once again makes you wonder how everything could go to shit as quickly as it did. From there we get an eight-minute chat with real life pathologist Craig Harvey about the field and the reasons he chose to take part in it, a music video, and an extended and gorier version of Pathology‘s final autopsy scene. All in all, there’s some quality stuff to be sifted through here.
This is a truly middle of the road experience. While it would be easy to dismiss this flick and tell you to stay away, Pathology is also home to some really visceral bits of horror that you may not want to miss. In the end this is a solid rental that’s not for the squeamish. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what went wrong; maybe the film itself is in need of an autopsy.
2 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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