JANUARY 10, 2009
I was at a birthday party tonight, so I wasn’t sure if I would make Autopsy in time (hence the unfortunate viewing of Anaconda 3). The clips I had seen at the last Fango con got me excited, and with an above average cast for an AD movie (including Robert Patrick and the great Michael Bowen), I definitely didn’t want to wait until DVD if possible. Luckily my party got out in time, so I get my movie and you get two reviews today!
Thankfully, Autopsy is the polar opposite of the snake movie. Rather than a shitty movie with occasional moments of decency, this is a fun movie with some minor blemishes. It starts off quick (maybe too quick – they wind up at a hospital as the result of a car accident that we don’t actually see), and despite the small cast (only 5 kids), the kills and gore come along at a pretty steady, fast pace.
One thing that definitely worked was having an about equal number of kids and killers. Everyone gets separated (of course), and each kid has a different psycho to deal with. While Patrick is the main villain, all the others (Bowen, Patrick’s T2 co-star Jeanette Goldstein, and Robert LaSardo) get plenty of moments to shine. Also, you know which one is the Final Girl (Jessica Lowndes – who needs to be in every movie ever), but you won’t be able to guess which ones will die first, because they’re all off in their own little mini-movie. Director Adam Geirasch (who also wrote with Jace Anderson and E.L. Katz) sometimes doesn’t make it clear where everyone is in relation to each other (and I never understood why Lowndes never bothered to return to the lobby), but does a damn fine job of keeping the film, which takes place entirely in the hospital after the first 10 minutes, continually interesting in a visual sense. A lot of the hallways and exam rooms may look similar, but you’ll never get sick of looking at em either, and it adds to the disorienting feeling that the characters are experiencing anyway.
One thing that does grow a bit tiresome is the number of times that Lowndes finds herself held down or otherwise trapped, only to reach, grab a scalpel or whatever, get herself free, and run away. It seems like this scene occurs 3-4 times in the film, which is about 2 too many. Granted, with a small cast and small location, some repetition is bound to occur, but it would have been nice to mix it up a tad bit more.
And considering how great the gore/kills are in this movie, you might even wish there were 20 kids, just to get that many more splatter scenes. Even Lowndes gets banged up pretty good, which is rare lately (I think 2005’s House of Wax may be the last time I can recall the Final Girl getting such a major injury), and the deaths of the others are far from standard. Bowen basically annihilates one girl, and the bad guys more than get their just desserts. Key though, is one of the best makeup appliance effects I have seen in I dunno how long. I don’t want to spoil the visual, but let’s just say it looks like a human tree.
I also love the sick sense of humor. It’s not an overly comedic film, but there’s a number of small moments that folks such as myself, who live and die by the mean-spirited hilarity of films like Silent Night Deadly Night, fully enjoy. Bowen and LaSardo’s means of putting a guy in a stretcher alone is worth the price of admission, and there’s a terrific gag involving a “small” shard of glass that had the whole audience rolling. Back to the “tree” too – it actually centers around a rather tender moment between Lowndes and her boyfriend, but Geirasch’s camera lovingly focuses on the prosthetics the whole time, which is just plain awesome. There are also a lot of minor subtle gags I loved; particularly a scene late in the film when one of the good guys just walks right by the villains, completely oblivious.
It was impressive how the film, which could have easily been a torture porn type film (the bad guy even has a morally “OK” motive, a la Turistas) managed to be so much fun. Sure, the heroes aren’t all dispatched quickly, and our heroine gets banged up a bit in an extended sequence, but it’s still all done with an air of goofiness that kept it far from Hostel territory. Occasional pacing issues aside, the short running time and copious amounts of blood along with a game cast (Bowen in particular seems to be having a blast) put this one in the winner category. Which means, along with From Within, After Dark 2009 is 2 for 2 in my book (and I hear good things about The Broken), so it’s a damn shame that they didn’t promote it at all this time around – even people who work for Lionsgate had no idea that the films were hitting theaters until a couple days ago. Previous years had billboards and lots of posters, but this year – nothing. Figures.
What say you?