Pathology (2008)

Beginning with a scene in which a group of medical residents forcibly move the mouths of cadavers to make it appear as though they’re talking, this is obviously a movie that’s out to shock. Unfortunately, it’s so heavy-handed in its attempts that it quickly becomes a tiresome mess filled with loathsome characters and little in the way of plausibility to redeem it.

Playing out like a more twisted version of Flatliners, a group of supposed medical professionals decide to take it upon themselves to devise a game in which they go out and kill an unsuspecting person in a convoluted way, leaving the rest of the gang to figure out just how they did it when the body ends up in their care. The idea is to, between them, figure out ‘the perfect murder’. In between the calculated killings, they take lots of drugs and indiscriminately have sex with one another.

New guy; Ted Grey (a decidedly bored and glum looking Milo Ventimiglia) is initially stonewalled by the group but then, for no apparent reason, they warm to him and invite him to join in their murderous ‘game’. Taking almost no time at all to succumb to their initially abhorrent life of drugs, sex and death, Ted, equally as quickly, begins to struggle with his newfound life whilst keeping his fiancé at arms length in order to protect her. It’s this unrealistic personality arc that sets the wheels of failure in motion and propels the film to implausibility and ultimately, nothingness.

Interspersing quick shots of deviant sex, drug taking and dissection of corpses does not make for an affecting or boundary-pushing film when there’s no point to it all. Hostel was shocking but it had the bonus of being a morality tale (albeit a confused one) and Saw had an intriguing and innovative story as its backbone but Pathology lacks either of these traits, instead concentrating on fitting as much depravity into its running time as possible for no reason other than to cause a stir.

While the premise is an interesting one, it’s handled in such a way that means you simply don’t care for anyone on screen. The characters are either devoid of a personality altogether (see Alyssa Milano’s naïve fiancé) or horrendous, two dimensional caricatures of real people (everyone else in the cast). For these reasons, watching Pathology was a chore.

Pathology is a cheap exercise in gorenography, except the scenes of torture and dissection are never really as gut-wrenching as previous films of the same ilk and the sex scenes merely serve as a brief distraction and an excuse to get the main characters in the buff, never really reaching the levels of sleaze and obscenity that the makers had obviously hoped for. It sacrifices any semblance of a basis in reality for cheap shocks and in doing so, falls flat. For their sins, the audience is then left with a damp squib of a climax and little in the way of explanation, exacerbating the bad taste it will almost certainly have already left in the viewers mouths.

It’s not entertaining, it’s not thought provoking and for connoisseurs of recent horror cinema, it’s not particularly shocking either. It’ll make you feel dirty, but not in a good way. Avoid.

Rating: ★★½☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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