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Pathology

dir: Marc Schoelerman
[img_assist|nid=149|title=You're going to stick what in my mouth?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=267]
This is some pretty sick shit. Insane, too. I hesitate to call it a horror flick, because that makes it sound like it’s scary and that there’s a plot, albeit a generic one.

No, though some elements of this insane flick were guessable in advance, I can’t really say I predicted just how crazy and nasty this crazy flick was going to play out.

Ted Grey (Milo Ventimiglia) is an allegedly brilliant doctor who is interning at an acclaimed pathology centre. The on-the-job training focuses on not only the techniques of pathology (autopsies and such), but on figuring out how people died and what killed them.

From the moment he starts working and studying there, a strange group of idiots led by someone whose name is coincidentally Gallo (Michael Weston) initially ridicule him but then bring him into their ranks with a deadly game they’re just itching to play with him.

In this world without police or pretty much any law enforcement, these crazy kids commit elaborate murders, with the intention being stumping the other interns in their little club with the sheer elusive brilliance with which it was carried out.

Our hero seems to get involved happily right from the start. Once he and they get into the swing of things, these strange omnisexuals morph into a bizarre almost death cult that has sex next to corpses and abuses methamphetamines at the drop of a glass pipe. In what was the most disturbing scene for me, in a film filled with disturbing scenes, one of the girls Ted bangs in the group cuts her own tongue with a scalpel before they get it on. All to the accompaniment of a driving, hammering Germanic industrial techno soundtrack.

Absurd doesn’t even begin to describe this flick.

I guess one of the points a flick with such a premise, and a point a show like Dexter makes as well is that the perfect occupation for a person who was a serial killer would be either forensics or law enforcement. Who would know better how to cover up and dispose of multiple corpses than people whose bread-and-butter it is to look after the dead?

But even taking that into consideration, and the concept that such people would be ideally placed to roadblock any investigation into their own crimes, this flick is still the height of absurdity.

That doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining. The screenplay, if they did in fact use a screenplay and didn’t just make up shit as they were going along, was scrawled on the back of a cardboard Guinness coaster by the same lunatics who wrote the utterly insane Crank a few years ago starring that supreme specimen of meatheadness, Jason Statham.

This flick stars an equally limited actor in the lead role, as in the guy who also recently played Sylvester Stallone’s son in Rocky Balboa; played less as his son and more as a cloned, identically retarded younger version of himself. Don’t get me wrong, I like Milo, especially for his role in Heroes as Pete Petrelli, but he possesses all the range of a lump of Sicilian salami.

His character here, who goes from super diligent doctor type to being comfortable with killing random people just for the fuck of it happens in record time, makes little if any sense, except in the broader sense the point is that people who get involved in the medical profession don’t necessarily possess a deep love of humanity. In fact, considering the frequency with which they see dead humans as just conglomerations of decaying meat, I guess we’re supposed to see them as only a whisker away from happily killing whoever so much as irks them.

Of course, if you’re a highly educated and highly talented group of sociopaths, with sufficient professional distance from your subjects that you could comfortably kill anyone for practically no reason at all, then it’s only a matter of before you turn on each other or even our inexplicable hero.

I say inexplicable because there’s a tiny amount of window dressing performed to differentiate between what Ted does and what the other death/murder junkies do. After all, he does dive in deep with them without so much as a backwards look. So, really, you could argue that Ted’s fate and the way the story plays out makes this a fairly transgressive film. But even going the extra mile to call the flick ‘transgressive’ is overreaching. There’s no way there’s enough intelligence involved to even render it anything more than entertaining, macabre trash. And this is fucking trash, there’s no doubt about that.

There is a very ugly and nasty spirit animating this flick. Before the horror even starts, Ted gives a speech in a bar which shows how little respect he has for humanity in theory. His actions afterwards, as he tries to balance out his desire for the respectable whitebread socialite cigars-and-cognac world with his crack-smoking, murdering people-and-fucking-right-next-to-their-corpses hobbies. The dichotomy is represented most keenly by his darling fiancé Gwen (Alyssa Milano), who doesn’t suspect just how fucked up Ted’s studies are proving, even after she finds his crack pipe. But damn does she fill out those evening gowns.

The lead and most obnoxious member of the murdering cluster of doctors, Dr Gallo, inevitably has to go even more insane than the others must be. He’s less the Charles Manson of the group and more someone who’s barely maintaining the façade of humanity for much longer. It’s not really fair to the actor, who has been typecast a long time, having played demented roles in everything from episodes of Law and Order to the legendary nightmare episode of Six Feet Under where David is kidnapped by a psychopath and is taken on the night ride of his life.

Michael Weston just looks like that kind of guy. And even after having watched him kill a whole mess of people and chop up their corpses, he still manages to top that by having the ugliest scene of the film when he drops his trousers to initiate his “visit” to an elderly prostitute in her 70s dressed up as a schoolgirl.

As previously stated, nothing in this film really makes any sense at all. The main character, his bisexual partners in crime and the whole world in which this stuff happens transcends the ludicrousness of anything previously seen in fantasy or science fiction movies. It’s just that unbelievable. Frankly the set-up would have made at least a tiny amount of sense if there’d been some revelation that they were all vampires, cyborgs or robot dinosaurs in disguise. It makes The Dark Knight look like a documentary.

But for all its implausibility, the cracked and nasty premise did keep me nailed to my seat for 80 minutes or so. I wanted to know just how much stranger shit could get, and how our vile protagonist was going to get himself out of a pretty horrendous double bind. And the resolution to his problems, again, whilst the most implausible resolution possible in this or any other reality, still made me smile.

Sure it’s evil trash, but sometimes I have the appetite for evil trash. Make of that what you will, but at the very least I would recommend drinking lots of alcohol before watching it with a bunch of gore fans primed for a rollicking good heckle.

6 ways in which even the relatively tame autopsy scenes made me dry retch out of 10

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“Dr. Stravinsky, let's take a look inside.” – Pathology.

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