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by Peter Sobczynski

"Not Quite As Terrifying As "Vibeology"
1 stars

“Pathology” is a gory horror thriller that includes a cabal of murderous medical resident, numerous autopsies on grotesque-looking corpses, orgies in the morgue room, a doctor ruminating on “the perversion and corruption of the flesh,” a brief cameo appearance from Dr. Giggles, a slightly larger appearance from Alyssa Milano (who, of course, spent several years on “Charmed” acting opposite another star of “Dr. Giggles,” a bit of information that could be useful if you ever find yourself playing “Six Degrees of Larry Drake”), whippet hits, a guy pimping his own grandmother and another autopsy on someone who is, to quote Monty Python, “not quite dead.” And yet, despite seemingly containing all the required elements for an agreeably lurid night at the movies, the most surprising thing about the film is how utterly boring it all is in the end. As this dreary and unpleasant mess drags itself to the finish line, no one in the presumably sparse audience will find themselves wondering why MGM decided to keep this one on the shelf for a long time before finally dumping it in a few theaters with no press screenings or advance publicity--however, they may find themselves wondering what there was about this particular project that could have enthused them enough to acquire it in the first place.

Milo Ventmiglia stars as Dr. Ted Grey, a brilliant graduate of Harvard Medical School who, as the story opens, bids goodbye to his fiancée (Milano) and takes off for L.A. to participate in a prestigious forensic pathology program that involves endless hours of ripping up corpses and tossing around body parts in the morgue and surprisingly little book study. The program is ruled by a clique of too-cool-for-the E.R. types and after some initial hazing, the leader of the group, Jake Gallo (Michael Weston), takes Ted out for a seedy night on the town and when he shows up for work the next morning, he is surprised to find one of the people that he encountered that night on the slab before him, the victim of a violent and unexplained death. It turns out that the cool kids have a game that they play--each one goes out and kills someone in a bizarre and mysterious manner and the others have to figure out how it was done--and Ted is now the newest participant, whether he likes it or not. After about 13 seconds of struggling with moral dilemmas and his Hippocratic oath, our hero decides to join in--mostly because it means that he gets to have lots of morgue-table sex with comely colleague Juliette (Lauren Lee Smith)--and the gang is soon whacking people left and right in ways that would have the “CSI” guys saying “Oh, please!” After having helped to rack up an impressive body count, Ted begins to think that maybe what they are doing is wrong (having to help clean up the murders of a trio of hookers will do that to you) and decides that he has had enough. In news that will no doubt surprise you, this news does not go down well with Jake, who is determined to come up with a kill that no one can unravel, and I suspect that you can pretty much write the rest at this point.

Like I said, the premise of “Pathology” sounds like it could be one of those increasingly rare films that are so off-the-wall insane that they achieve some kind of sleazo grandeur--”I Know Who Killed Me” was an excellent example of this particular type--and the fact that it was written by Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, whose previous effort was the decidedly nutball “Crank,” only increases the anticipation that this might be one of those once-in-a-lifetime trash classics that you almost have to pinch yourself while watching in order to assure yourself that it isn’t a dream. However, while “Crank” was perhaps too over-caffeinated for its own good, “Pathology” goes in the opposite direction and becomes so dull after a while that if you do wind up pinching yourself, it will be in a vain attempt to stay awake and alert. (This is the film that should have been called “Coma.”) You would think that even the hackiest director would be able to create a sense of creepy suspense with a film set almost entirely within the confines of a hospital morgue, but debuting director Marc Schoelermann is completely unable to develop any discernible sense of dramatic tension. Instead, we are forced to sit around for 90-odd minutes watching a group of self-centered and deeply unlikable medical residents (at one point, our hero--our hero--is riding on a bus when a little old lady suffers a heart attack and instead of helping out, he simply gets off the buss and presumably lets her die) drinking, bickering, boinking and generally acting like smug jerks to such a degree that you can’t imagine how any of them could have proceeded so far with their medical careers without someone going after them with a bone saw. In other words, it is pretty much the same thing as an extended episode of the insufferable “Grey’s Anatomy,” albeit an episode with more gruesome throat slashings than you might ordinarily see on network television.

No matter what reasons you might possibly have for seeing “Pathology,” the film almost seems to go out of its way to deflate them at every turn--it isn’t exciting, it isn’t suspenseful and it isn’t even particularly inventive in regards to the blood-and-guts content. (Frankly, the best thing about the film is the MPAA’s justification for giving it an R rating--a cornucopia of calamity that includes “disturbing and perverse behavior throughout, including violence, gruesome images, strong sexual content, nudity, drug use and language.” ) While watching it, I kept thinking back to another medical horror film from a few years ago, a nifty German import called “Anatomy” that was directed by Stefan Ruzowitsky (who later went on to make the Oscar-winning “The Counterfeiters”) and starred the always-delightful Franka Potente. That film also dealt with a group of brilliant medical residents who went to murderous extremes to perfect their craft and contained many icky moments (including one in which a guy wakes up on a operating table and discovers that he isn’t all there, if you know what I mean) but it also managed to tell a compelling story that was both smart and genuinely disturbing. By comparison, “Pathology” is more or less like many of the casualties that our hero encounters on the morgue table--it is unpleasant to look at, dead from the moment we first encounter it and it feels as though its brain has been forcibly removed. The only difference is that the suffering of the corpses is over while ours is just beginning.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16877&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/18/08 15:54:19
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User Comments

1/08/09 Shaun Wallner Scary Film! 5 stars
6/05/08 kirk great sick fun 5 stars
6/04/08 Jayson What was that about? 1 stars
4/18/08 Renee It was pretty good, I will see again 3 stars
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  18-Apr-2008 (R)
  DVD: 23-Sep-2008


  DVD: 23-Sep-2008

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