For several months, I had been anticipating the theatrical release of Pathology, a movie which got majority of its buzz created through the net. Going into the screening, I thought I was prepared for the gratuitous sex and violence that would shine onscreen, (considering it was penned by the Neveldine/Taylor team, the guys who brought us CRANK) however; I can honestly say I was surprisingly not ready for the sick and perverse horror that was awaiting me.
Now before I get into all the gritty details, let me give you a brief synopsis. The film fellows Ted Gray, (played by Heroes’ Milo Ventimiglia) a medical student who has graduated top of his class. Soon after that he gets invited to join one of the most prestigious Pathology programs in the country. He soon discovers a group of his fellow classmates like to play a deadly game after hours. They all each take turns killing strangers only to see if the rest of the group can guess how they killed the victim. When Ted gets invited in the group, he soon gets seduced into their sick world. However, can Ted pull himself out before he ends up on the morgue slab for the group’s sadistic guessing game? Sex, drugs, death and mayhem ensues.
Now for anybody who goes to see this movie without first viewing the internet teaser trailer or the now infamous red band trailer has my deepest sympathies. If you have no idea what is in store for you, you will be taken aback. This is because Pathology is an unapologetic elbow punch to the solar plexus, instep, nose, and groin. Knowing this information beforehand may not make this film an easier watch; however it should make for a far less shocking one.
Director Marc Schoelermann and writers Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine deliver the most politically incorrect film I have seen in ages. In this Saw meets Flatliners film, the audience either endures or enjoys scenes and montages of extreme violence, grisly autopsies, crack smoking, and plenty of S&M sex on morgue slabs. (Blood, sex, and crack, oh my!)
A lot of these scenes would not have hit as hard as they did, if it wasn’t for Schoelermann’s stylish and fast-paced directing style. At times, I swear it felt as if someone had slipped Ecstasy in my water while watching the film’s most wild and disorienting sequences. (Kudos to him for creating such a bizarre and trippy atmosphere!)
Additionally, majority of the cast also gave entertaining performances. I have to give it up to Milo Ventimiglia for taking on such a challenging and risky role though. (Anybody who is expecting to see Peter Petrelli, is in for a rude awakening!) Considering the popularity of Heroes, most actors in his position would have played it safe and chosen a lighter project to be apart of. Lauren Lee Smith (who plays Juliette) also took on a courageous role as the psychopathic temptress. (She definitely made the male audience happy! J) Seeing the underrated and easy on the eyes, Johnny Whitworth (who also plays one of deranged med students) is always a welcome presence onscreen in my books. Also film geeks will appreciate the cameo done by genre favorite, Larry Drake. (His scene is by far the most memorable scene in the movie for it had half the audience gasping and the other half cheering.) However, the scene stealer of the group is Michael Weston. His over the top and morbidly funny performance as the film’s main antagonist was definitely the most enjoyable thing about the film.
On the downside, the film was far too fast-paced for my liking. A good number of characters were hardly developed if at all. In fact, one of the sadistic med students (played by Dan Cahallan) had hardly any lines and I felt like he was being used to fill the scenery. Also, I felt Ted’s transition from goody goody two shoes med student to a crack smoking and fiancée-cheating killing machine, evolved far too quickly. He changed from good to bad in LITERALLY a blink of an eye. It just seemed far too surreal and far fetched to be taken too seriously.
This also leads to another problem with the movie. Considering 90 % of the characters in the film are villains, and the lead protagonist joins the dark side with a drop of a dime, the audience is left with no one to identify with or care about for that matter. The one character the viewers are supposed to care about is Ted’s unsuspecting fiancée. (Played by the beautiful Alyssa Milano) Unfortunately, her character is far too underused and the audience soon forgets about her as soon as she’s off screen.
However, one of the film’s biggest flaws was is its undeterminable genre. Pathology wants to be a unique psychological thriller, yet it turns out to be an unbalanced hybrid of film genres. It’s too funny and satirical at certain times to be taken too seriously, yet it’s far too disturbing and graphic to be taken too lightly. Was it a horror film? Was it a thriller? Was it a dark comedy? This is something I’m still trying to figure out.
Pathology is not meant for everyone, yet it never strives to be. In fact, besides within the horror film community, I don’t think this film is going to get many favorable reviews from the general public. Despite its flaws and overly gratuitous and offensive content, Pathology is still an edgy and unremorseful film that is far from the usual mainstream fare. (This unfortunately may be one of the reasons why the film is not getting a wide release.) I actually admire the filmmakers for not being afraid of pushing people’s buttons and making a movie that most of society would deem unacceptable. If this movie is not opening in your area, I would highly recommend you check it out on DVD. (Well…maybe not everyone :P)