Lionsgate // 2009 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 1st, 2009
Get carried away.
College friends. Car accident. Middle of nowhere. Freaky-deaky hospital. And Robert Patrick.
A car wreck leaves a bunch of friends stranded in Louisiana. They're taken to a nearby hospital, which also happens to be super-scary. Running this hospital is a doctor (Robert Patrick) who's doing some pretty messed-up @#$%, which includes, but is not limited to, anesthetic-free, highly invasive surgery and unnecessary spinal fluid removal.
Apparently, he's running experiments that invariably end in innocent victims maimed and slaughtered. He's psycho, yeah, but there's a reason for his madness and it will fall to the remaining survivors to figure out what that is, as well as, you know, not get maimed or slaughtered.
Forget suspense or psychological terror: Autopsy is all about ridiculous amounts of gore and the sporadic jump scare. On both counts, this film scores huge.
I've been impressed with this year's batch of Afterdark Horrorfest entries. They've been a varied lot, bringing different angles to the genre. Autopsy fills the gross-out quotient quite nicely and if you've been yearning for the copious bloodshed in your "Eight Films to Die For," here you go. Director Adam Gierasch keeps the gore set-pieces coming fast and he's always got something different: graphic face bludgeoning, stabbing, foot amputations, a sandblaster used to remove fingerprints, self-inflicted wounding, conscious surgery, a drill to the head and a profoundly disgusting scene where a shambling cadaver disgorges all of his guts on a poor girl's face. All of the effects are executed well, adding up to a truly grotesque experience.
Which would be unbearably horrifying if Autopsy didn't employ a macabre tone. Gierasch smartly tempers the extreme violence with nausea-defusing black comedy, lending the enterprise a Tales from the Crypt-like feel. It's all still most definitely horror and bad guys are despicably evil and the bloody mayhem is over-the-top, but to its credit, Autopsy doesn't take itself too seriously.
The story is serviceable, though nothing terribly compelling. You find out the evil doctor's game pretty early on, dispensing with the mystery, leaving only the manner in which the characters will succumb to their grisly demise as the only question mark. There is one scene that the plot sort of builds to and it's really just a visual, but Holy Cow what a visual it is. I'm not going to spoil it, but it certainly gives the film's title more meaning.
The DVD is a solid one, kicked off with a clean, color-saturated 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and loud 5. 1 Dolby Digital surround mix. Extras: a lively commentary with Adam Gierasch, writers Jace Anderson and Evan Katz, actor Ross McCall and producer Jessica Horowitz, an alternate ending that's a whole lot darker but maybe a little better and a decent making-of documentary and the standard-issue Miss Horrorfest webisodes.
Blood-soaked, unrelenting, and (mercifully) somewhat humorous, Autopsy is a welcome slice of horror.
Not guilty. (Must refrain from writing "It's a cut above the rest.")
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated