Reviewer's Note: Unfortunately, Fox / MGM sent DVD Talk a screener copy of Pathology to review. Since the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment logo pops up from time to time as well as what I believe were other deliberate artifacts, placed there perhaps out of copy protection worries, I don't feel this disc best reflects what will likely arrive in stores. Because of this, the video and audio quality will not be evaluated for this review. Should DVD Talk receive the final product for consideration, this review will be amended.
Every now and then, a thriller shows up involving medical students who go off the deep end and engage in disturbing behavior. One such movie arrived nearly two decades ago (and boy, it does not seem that long ago - I must be getting old) in theaters. It was a popular flick called Flatliners, and it centered upon a group of medical students who decided they would bring each other near death to experience the greatest mystery of humankind. As a thriller / horror movie, of course, things do not go well with their experiment. The film is probably more notable today for being a ensemble of young, up-and-coming actors including Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, and others.
I was reminded of Flatliners as I watched Pathology, a recent thriller involving a group of medical students that's been released on home video. In this potboiler, the students are playing a high stakes game where each tries to commit a perfect murder and see if the others can't figure out their method as they examine the corpse in the pathology ward. It does have a cast of notable young up-and-coming actors, though whether their careers are as varied as the cast of Flatliners, of course, remains to be seen.
Pathology follows Ted Grey (Milo Ventimiglia from NBC's hit series Heroes), a brilliant young medical student who, after serving a stint in Africa, is stationed at the pathology ward of a New York City hospital. He's engaged to Gwen (Alyssa Milano from the hit series Charmed), and his future is very promising. However, his fellow students, he discovers, are a bunch of complete psychotics. They drink, smoke crack, have a lot of sex, and oh yes, play the game that is mentioned in the previous paragraph. Their leader is Jake (Michael Weston), who somehow entices Ted to participate in their deadly pursuits. It doesn't seem to take Ted very long to join in, especially since he has an attraction to Juliette (Lauren Lee Smith), a pathologist who seems to share her sexual appetites with everyone in the group.
Well, if you haven't picked up on this from the synopsis above, Pathology is one sleazy film, even by direct-to-video standards. It's worth mentioning this as I can envision fans of Heroes picking this up and being surprised to see one of its main stars in such a dark and twisted little tale. The autopsy scenes are graphic and intentionally shocking, as the students like to play games with the dead bodies they work upon. Violence and nudity are also surprisingly copious.
What isn't copious is intelligence. This is one far-fetched movie. How on Earth these medical students have the time and energy to indulge in the vices they do and plan and carry out their meticulous murders is never explained. Why someone as brilliant as Ted would need little prompting to engage in the behaviors he does is never really explained. And as the movie goes along, the events become more and more implausible, until a finale that is jaw-droppingly inane.
However, I will admit that this film does satisfy prurient interests. If one isn't queasy at the sight of blood, Pathology remains an interesting movie throughout. The acting is pretty good all around, with Ventimiglia carrying over his brooding personality from Heroes fairly well. And in and amongst the silliness, there are some effective moody scenes and chilling lines of dialogue. It's gross and it's trashy, but it keeps one's interest. I hesitate in this rating a bit, but I'll go with a borderline Recommended.
See Reviewer's Note at the top of this review.
See Reviewer's Note at the top of this review.
A Language Selection menu suggests the final disc will have an English language 5.1 Dolby Surround track and a Spanish language Dolby Surround track. English and Spanish subtitles will also be made available.
When the disc is played, trailers precede the main menu for Deception, The Happening, Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead, and Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia. These trailers don't seem to be linked in the main menu, but inexplicably, a link does exist to a trailer for AVPR: Alien Vs. Predator Requiem.
Pathology arrives loaded with movie-specific extras in addition to the trailers. The most significant of these is a feature-length commentary by director Marc Scholermann and writers / producers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. A random sampling suggests it's an irreverent track, with all three providing observations and jokes about the movie.
Creating the Perfect Murder (15:02) starts off a series of featurettes. It's a typical featurette that deals with the making of the movie and has sound bytes from various cast and crew. Next up is The Cause of Death: A Conversation with Pathologist Craig Harvey (8:05), which serves up about what its title promises. Harvey makes some observations about pathology, and scenes from the movie are played. Unintended Consequences (2:21) is a short music video by Legion of Doom F/ Triune. Finally, an extended cut of one of the autopsy scenes from the movie (3:04) round out the extras. All but the last featurette are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
Pathology, a story about medical students who challenge each other's diagnostic prowess by trying to commit the perfect murder, is gory, trashy, and very far-fetched. However, it's also fairly well-acted, and despite the absurd storyline, it is an engaging film with an interesting premise. This is not a movie for everyone, but I think the horror and thriller crowd will find enough of interest to warrant a mild recommendation.