Reviewed by Andrew Kasch
Staring Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Weston, Alyssa Milano, Lauren Lee Smith, Johnny Whitworth
Directed by Marc Schoelermann
A medical thriller from the minds behind Crank, Pathology should’ve been the antidote to every insipid studio horror movie out there. Instead, it wound up as one of them. The plot follows Harvard hotshot Dr. Ted Grey (Milo Ventimigila), who starts his internship at a prestigious pathology program and instantly finds himself at odds with a group of warped med students led by the deranged Jake Gallo (Michael Weston). Before long, Ted finds himself inducted into their debaucherous underground club to play “a game”: Each member must go out, kill an undesirable, and challenge their forensic buddies to figure out the cause of death. Sex, drugs, and murder follow.
It’s a formula for sick and twisted movie mayhem, but Pathology seems to pull its punches at every turn – something I never thought possible from the makers of Crank. To be fair, Neveldine and Taylor only wrote and produced this film, having handed the reins over to first-time feature director Marc Schoelerman. There's plenty of edgy content, but Schoelerman doesn't seem to embrace it, opting for a somber emotional tone that just isn't there. Scenes crash into each other without rhyme or reason, and the result is a movie that's too trashy for mainstream audiences and too lifeless for the cult crowd.
But what really kills Pathology is a complete lack of character dynamics. To care about the game, we have to first care about the players, and Ted is the most wooden lead character you could ask for. We know absolutely nothing about him other than that he’s a good pathologist and walks around with a stick up his ass, which makes his seduction into the group all the more unconvincing. Weston’s homicidal Dr. Gallo easily steals the film, but his character appears too crazy too early to buy into his mania. It’s the shallow relationship between these two men - with endless scenes of Gallo taunting Ted – that is explored in lieu of the actual game. Sexy redhead Juliette (Lauren Lee Smith) pops up for some Jezebel action, but the rest of the students get little-to-no screen time, which robs the entire plot of its thunder. How much fun would Near Dark have been if you spent all its time with the dull hero instead of the vampire clan?
To make matters worse, the handful of kills we get occur offscreen or in quick-cut montages. A better movie would have explored each club member and the plan/execution of their chosen victim, but instead we get scene after scene of Ted brooding and looking guilty. That’s not to say that Pathology is a tame movie. There’s plenty of freaky-fetish sex and vile gore (the cadaver FX are nothing short of amazing) along with scattered moments of dark humor that help break up the boredom. But it’s the story’s complete lack of a downward spiral that ruins any tension or suspense.
It’s hard to know exactly what went wrong with Pathology, whether it be a half-baked script, unfocused direction, or just ol’ fashioned studio tampering – but most will agree that Neveldine and Taylor should stick to directing their own material, if only to do justice to their wild ideas.
2 out of 5
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