Mortuary (2006) Review
Written by: raw
I suppose it's damning with faint praise to say that "Mortuary" wasn't THAT bad. It's certainly no "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" or "Poltergeist" but it doesn't fall into the loopy "Lifeforce" or plain awful "Crocodile" categories either. The plot made at least as much sense as the "Toolbox Murders" remake. No, there's not a whole lot of exposition about what precisely is reanimating the dead but it's made pretty clear visually. And, OK, the titular piece of real estate is fairly obviously a dump but you do get the impression that the mother and newbie mortician was sold a bill of goods about the condition the property would be in by the time she'd packed up and moved with her two kids in tow. Personally, I thought the fact that she had to drive cross country was a pretty good indicator of the financial straits they were in as a fatherless family. Trust me, if you have kids, you would sell internal organs on the black market for airline tickets rather than shut yourself in a car with them for longer than 2 hours.
The actors were believably sincere in their performances. Lee Garlington as Rita the owner/manager/waitress of the local greasy spoon diner and font of creepy town legend info, was a refreshingly entertaining surprise in what could have been a throw-away role. Dan Byrd found a way to imbue the cliche of disgruntled teenage protagonist--who didn't want to move in the first place and definitely not to a po-dunk town where he'll be live-in part-time staff at an old fashioned mom n' pop mortuary--with a decent ammount of likeability even when passive-agressively whining about his situation. Denise Crosby, played the Mom-on-the-brink-of-financial-hell-or-salvation with a light touch of comedy and repressed desperation. The fact that she does her darndest to ignore the creeping tentacles of strange black "fungus" that steadily increase over the course of the film, didn't bother me. She's got her hands full setting up her new business and then a "lucrative" freeway accident dumps a pile of "patients" in her lap before she's even finished unpacking boxes. OK, so she could have assigned one of the kids to bleach scrub duty, but how many of us watch a Tobe Hooper film in the hope of witnessing realistic housekeeping chores?
Bottom line, the reanimated dead were sufficiently gross and scary (and after that freeway accident--more than sufficiently numerous), while the living victims (who fall prey to the fungus only when it's ingested--usually by projectile vomit from another carrier) were creepy in the lingering aspects of the humanity they're in the process of losing entirely. There were a few good jump scares, more than enough grossness--despite any actual canibal activity--and the "mastermind" villain behind the whole escapade is, I think, more frightening for it's startlingly alien and basicly animal nature. Best of all, Tobe doesn't pull his punches with the violence or a willingness to embrace the darkest of possibilities. The ending isn't "feel-good", but it's much more plausible when you consider the opponents involved. If anything, the last few seconds give you one more good "GOTCHA!" in parting. As set-ups for sequels go (if that was the intent here) it's not nearly as cloying as most I've seen.
In many ways, Mortuary, is a pre-Slither sort of movie. I'm not saying it's in the same category but it does have some of the same flavor and execution. The special effects and makeup are better than your average straight to rental and laudably restrained. If you enjoyed "Toolbox Murders" and you like the reanimated undead genre, I don't think "Mortuary" will disappoint you. It's not nearly as gory as "The Dawn of the Dead" remake but the violence and grim attitude are close.