PATHOLOGY

R
Reviews

When the smartest thing about a film is its title—"pathology" referring to both the profession and the pathological nature of its main characters—then everything can just roll dumber from there. A medical-horror story bathed in blood and gore, which is thematically no problem given the subject and the psychology, and filled with an adolescent's idea of kinky sex—Oooh, dude! Two girls kissing! Oh, man, look! He's doing that chick in front of a dead guy!—Pathology is nonetheless as dull as a conversation with a corpse.

There's some of that here, too, in this first feature by a German TV-commercial director and the writers of that videogame-masquerading-as-a-movie, Crank (2006). The corpses in question, populating the pathology department of Metropolitan University Medical Center, aren't zombies or anything, but meat puppets whose mouths the med students move for impromptu dialogue sessions. And that's just the tip of the scalpel, as we're introduced to the most sinister cabal of collegians since those Ivy League killers of The Skulls. And by "sinister" we mean comically ridiculous—we didn't know serial killers formed frats.

Led by the scruffy Jake Gallo (Michael Weston, in wild-eyed ooga-booga mode), the cabal quintet operates, as it were, with amazing openness under the nose of department head Dr. Quentin Morris (John de Lancie, Q of "Star Trek: The Next Generation")—who is apparently the only teacher, administrator or other authority figure in a hospital seemingly sans security guards or records clerks, in a city where no next-of-kin or police investigate a rash of exotic killings. (Liquid nitrogen forced into someone's lungs? Ah, happens every day.) The five all take turns murdering mostly strangers, for a game in which their fellow pathologists try to deduce how the victim died. When the bludgeoningly named new guy Ted (shades of) Grey (Milo Ventimiglia) takes up residency, he changes personality in a single night from UNICEF doctor with rich, sexy fiancée (Alyssa Milano) to, well, Dr. Jekyll.

Imbued with a dull, dour quality strangely at odds with its Grand Guignol blood ’n’ guts, the picture plods along from plot-hole to plot-hole as your mind wanders, perplexed as to how Ventimiglia, who works constantly from hit show to hit show, had no better script from which to choose. Clearly, he should have asked for a second opinion.