Jessica Lowndes as Emily
Ashley Schneider as Clare
Robert Patrick as Doctor
Jenette Goldstein as Nurse Marian
Michael Bowen as Travis
Directed by Adam Gierasch
Autopsy marks the directorial debut of Adam Gierasch, half of the screenwriting team behind Tobe Hooper’s The Toolbox Murders and Dario Argento’s Mother of Tears; two films Gierasch penned with Jace Anderson that met with mixed reactions among horror fans. Have the team come up with something to please the majority this time? My bet is they have, for what starts as a run-of-the-mill teen horror slowly emerges as a truly twisted and gore-soaked horror treat!
The story – co-written by E.L.Katz – surrounds a group of teenagers who, after a car crash find themselves picked up by an ambulance and taken to a strangely empty hospital. Gradually each member of the group are taken off to their respective treatment rooms only to find that they are all in a far worse situation than before they took the ambulance ride. Autopsy‘s set-up is pure clichÃ©, evoking memories of any number of films based upon characters ended up stranded in some way or another, conveniently finding themselves in a supposedly safe-haven and eventually getting picked off one by one. Substitute the hospital for a mysterious mansion and you get the idea.
However, Autopsy takes these clichÃ©s and runs with them; it revels in the stock characters and early situations and merges them with such an inventive display of creativity that it just works. As the film progresses, it becomes clear to the viewer that this is no ordinary slasher-type film â there is something special here and the film oozes with an infectious sense of fun which is present in every frame through its own original style. To liken it to a haunted house crossed with a funhouse ride at a fairground would adequately sum up its sense of exuberance and give you an idea of the cinematic amusement park that awaits.
What makes Autopsy stand out is its refusal to hold any boundaries, especially when it comes to totally out-there and inventive splatter set pieces. One particular scene involving an ‘intestine-tree’ (seeing is unbelieving) is sure to stand out as a classic invention, and we are also treated to a fire extinguisher moment that easily rivals Irreversible‘s scene-stealer. Even though it may take a while to get going, once it gets off the ground, it doesn’t stop running and the creative gore-scenes come thick and fast.
Aside from the grue, we are subject to a number of accomplished performances. Jessica Lowndes (from the atrocious Master’s of Horror episode Dance of the Dead) holds her own up against seasoned pros like Robert Patrick, who here effectively plays to type as a sinister surgeon. Patrick’s villain is an efficient antagonist who has a tad more method to his madness that your regular movie psycho. Also of note is Jenette Goldstein who some may recognize as the bad-ass Vasquez from Aliens; here she plays the polar opposite of Vasquez as the sinister but sickly sweet Nurse Marian and is particularly effective in her role. Aside from those mentioned, the rest of the young cast doesn’t have too much to work with and subsequently result average yet effective performances.
Gierasch’s direction is also efficient, making great use of a relatively low budget and making the film look as polished as a mainstream movie. Autopsy is shot with a striking array of bright colors which gives the film its distinctive fairground-sense of goofy fun. For a debut, it is skillful and imaginative and each shot evidently shines with Gierasch’s obvious creative style.
Autopsy‘s down points are merely limited to the linear nature of the storyline and the clichÃ©d characters, as for all its inventiveness it really isn’t anything new and won’t be held as a milestone in horror filmmaking. It seems however, that Gierasch probably didn’t mean for it to be, he most likely just wanted to make a horror film by horror fans and for horror fans – something which he has competently achieved.
Overall Autopsy is an exciting, immensely enjoyable and, most of all, surprising horror effort that exists for no other reason than to entertain; a feat that it succeeds in almost every aspect. It provides the right amount of laughs, yuks and jumps to certainly make Anderson, and Gierasch in particular, an obviously horror-dedicated and inventive team to watch out for.