Saturday, August 09, 2008


Who Are We Killing Today?

From the West with the latest Saw installment or the indie Unrest, to the Asian counterpart in Body #19, dead bodies/cadavers continue to be milked for cinematic horror, not that you'd expect them to turn into zombies and start craving for human flesh, but for the amount of gore that an autopsy can provide when it's shown in your face, with skin and fat pulled back using tools of the trade, coupled with internal organs on display to challenge your stomach.

Pathology provides a narrative reason, using forensic science in allowing bodies to be piled on screen for the working pleasure of pathologists in training to hone their craft in determining causes of death. Milo Ventimiglia stars as Ted Grey, the best of the best amongst his cohort, joining a new fraternity with his glowing credentials, only for the local boys and girls to feel threatened with his arrival, and setting up a keen rivalry. Besides involving some one-upmanship amongst themselves in proving their worth in class, something also seemed to be brewing beyond the confines of the classroom, and geek pride coupled with loneliness away from fiancee Gwen Williamson (Alyssa Milano) makes Ted vulnerable to the seduction of power play from chief rival Jake (Michael Weston) and from the opposite sex courtesy of Juliette Bath (Lauren Lee Smith of Lie With Me fame).

Now from the onset, I thought this would be your usual frat-boy falling into the doldrums and then crawling his way back up again kind of story. Surprisingly, Pathology offered a little more, and was close enough to achieve greatness, if not for some very glaring suspension of disbelief required on the part of the audience. The students had to perform the perfect murder in round robin fashion, and then allow for their peers to determine from the bodies, evidence to support their theories on how the crime was committed. All this while, the cops have no idea what's going on, but that's only because of the lack of a cast member playing characters upholding the law.

It was interesting though to follow Ted's fall from grace and succumbing into the world of sex, drugs, and the thrill of putting their medical knowledge to use in becoming murderers. Yes, it's that kind of a movie with loads of moral ambiguity, especially when the character of Jake got seduced into crossing the line of no return, becoming, in their own words, a serial killer of sorts. Stakes of course get raised as the movie went along, and the finale brought on things quite unexpected, relying on the perennial twist to provide sweet satisfaction, with mixed results.

But don't approach this expecting loads of intelligence being lavished upon the story. It works for a while but doesn't hold up much under scrutiny. The great looking casts help too in roping in its target audience, and I thought Ventimiglia resembled Tobey Maguire enough to wrestle the mantle of the spider should the latter decide not to continue the lucrative franchise.

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