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PATHOLOGY

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Weston, Alyssa Milano, Lauren Lee Smith, Johnny Whitworth, John de Lancie
Director: Marc Schoelermann
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: MGM
Features: See Review
Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: September 23, 2008

ďLetís take a look inside.Ē

Film ***1/2

Who knew that a balls-to-the-wall gorefest could be executed (no pun intended) with such originality? The appropriately titled Pathology is the kind of movie Iíve been longing for in the horror genre. Itís unapologetically sick and twisted, and done with a great level of style.

In other words, itís exactly what the Saw and Hostel movies are lacking. Sure, thereís plenty of gore and flesh on display. But in addition to all the red eye candy, thereís a level of substance that mostly all of the ďtorture pornĒ fare doesnít seem to include, as well as unique and colorful characters (certainly for this film genre) that make this an extremely rare piece of cinematic insanity that manages to really get under your skin.

Writers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who wrote and directed the fantastic adrenaline rush Crank, have crafted a sick and lurid tale that wouldíve been right at home in the Grindhouse days, and I mean that as a compliment. Pathology is similar to Crank in terms of the over-the-top story material. And in his American film debut, German director Marc Schoelermann delivers a lot of rich, visual flair to the bloody proceedings.

Another fascinating aspect of the movie is that, in the end, there is no clear-cut protagonist. We are introduced to Dr. Ted Grey (Milo Ventimiglia), a med student who is top of his class at Harvard. He ends up taking a job alongside several student pathologists at a hospital in D.C.

The group of young doctors is lead by Jake Gallo (Michael Weston), and to say he is a most eccentric type of pathologist is a gross understatement. The movie wastes no time in establishing the fact that Gallo and the rest of the pathologists in this after hours club are nothing short of homicidal maniacs. They clearly have spent one hour too many hanging around the dead, as indicated by a most hilarious opening sequence.

Gallo proposes a sick little game to Ted. The object is to kill off a person of their choosing, and have the rest of the gang figure out how it was done through autopsy. Even more startling is the fact that Ted, who at the beginning of the film is indicated to be the hero of the piece, seems more turned on by the challenge than he should be.

Needless to say, things get more and more insane and bloody from this point on. Much to my surprise, I found myself really on the edge of my seat, which for me is quite a rare feeling. The movie pulled a fast one on me more than once, as I thought the movie was about to end, only to be blown out of my seat one last and most spectacular time. The final sequence of the movie is, I must say, one of the sickest, most twisted and bloody brilliant final shots Iíve seen in any horror/thriller.

Hereís another thing you donít expect to see in movies like this; good acting. Milo Ventimiglia, who many might recognize as Peter Petrelli from Heroes, is a fresh and engaging talent who provides the darkest protagonist in recent memory. Itís easy to see that for his first big screen leading role, Milo was gunning for  a role completely opposite of a contemporary hero.

But thereís no question that the one who steals the show is Michael Weston, who provides one of the more funny and charismatically insane individuals Iíve seen in any film like this. Right from his introduction, you get a sense that something is seriously wrong with Dr. Gallo. One of the most brilliant shots in the movie is a bloody Gallo taking a bow on a stage, before an imaginary audience, once Ted explains how he killed a subject, fully illustrating his dedication to sick behavior.

On one level, Pathology is a gleefully repulsive and twisted movie that isnít pretending to be anything else. At the same time, itís a slick and solid piece of filmmaking, and thatís an element that the horror genre is missing. Itís not needed for every horror film, but it does help in making this a cut above what is offered these days in the genre. The torture porn gallery could definitely learn a thing or two from this flick.

Video ****

From the very beginning, this MGM release boasts a most terrific anamorphic picture, which is important for this movie because of the visual flair brought to the table. Thereís about an equal mixture of light and dark sequences, both of which turn up most spectacularly. Color is also handled brilliantly, especially in a nightclub sequence. The picture itself is incredibly crisp and clear throughout the movie.

Audio ****

Even more spectacular is the stunning 5.1 mix, which perfectly accompanies this brutal flick with an intense level of sound.  The music score is a real standout and plays out through the channels in a most effective manner. The various set pieces allow for some truly dynamic surround sound. For my money, this is one of the best sounding discs of the year!

Features ***

Included on this MGM release is a commentary with director Marc Scholermann and screenwriters/producers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, as well as two featurettes, ďCreating the Perfect MurderĒ and ďThe Cause of Death: A Conversation with Pathologist Craig HarveyĒ. Also featured is a music video for "Unintended Consequences" by The Legion of Doom F/ Triune and an Extended Autopsy Scene.

Summary:

Pathology is sick, twisted and I loved every minute of it. Sensitive viewers stand back, but those looking for a gorefest that is equally insane and original should look no further than this remarkable guilty pleasure!

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