Director – Stefan Ruzowitzky
Cast – Franka Potente, Benno Fürmann, Anna Loos, Sebastian Blomberg, Holger Speckhahn, Traugott Buhre, Oliver Wnuk, Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey, Andreas Günther, Rüdiger Vogler
Release Year – 2000
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Due to my love for science I have always enjoyed horror films that focus on the medical field. While some of them like Pathology and Awake have fallen short, films like Re-Animator and Flatliners have kept me believing that there are still good medically driven horror films out there, and Anatomy is one of them. With excellent visuals and positive direction, this German horror film provides great tension and amounts to an enjoyable watch if you are looking for a medically-inspired horror flick.
Franka Potente(Creep, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremecy) stars as Paula Henning, a bright young medical student arriving at the prestigious Heidelberg Medical School. It has been her lifelong dream to follow her grandfather’s footsteps and attend the school, however she begins to have second thoughts regarding the school when a young man she met only days prior winds up as a cadaver on her dissecting slab. Convinced that a sinister cult of medical professions and students are kidnapping the terminally ill and using them for sick scientific experiments, Paula goes to extreme measures to put a stop to those committing such heinous and unethical crimes.
Anatomy does not give me a story that I have never seen before, but it gave me a fun and enjoyable experience thanks to the horror that it provided. The film takes off with a bang and delivers some of the best scenes of horror that I have seen in this sub-genre, although from then on out the film slowly leaves the horror realm and goes “thriller” on us.
The idea of a medical student trying to uncover a conspiracy and putting herself at great risk in doing so is not new to the genre either, but with fair execution the idea usually works in a positive way, and it does in this film. Paula Henning was a pleasure to watch because she carried everything that we want to see in the protagonist; drive, innocence, and a strong conscience. Because of this is made it easy for me to side with her with things got awry, which I admit is not the case with a lot of films when they have a poorly written protagonist. Many other characters are thrown into the mix, which aid the film in its pacing by giving us a number of different things going on and also providing more victims as well. Thankfully, none of the characters were useless, which is the case in most films with lots of characters, and each provided their own positive weight towards the film. I enjoyed the idea of the cult used in the film, which was nice to see given most other films in this sub-genre have to do with students taking matters into their own hands. While the horror in the film is well-written and satisfying, I really wish that the film would have kept the feel of its first act, which was truly awesome and horrific. Instead, the film moved more into the thriller realm as time went on, although it still provided elements of horror here and there. Had this film been a full-on horror film the rating would have been higher, just as long as the horror used was as good as it was in the first act.
Director Stefan Ruzowitzky did a fine job bringing this film to screen, with unique visuals and awesome lighting. His shadowy sets provided the perfect eerie feel that set up perfect atmosphere for this type of film, making the already spooky morgue and dissection scenes even spookier. The FX used in the film were top-notch, and I loved the look of the preserved bodies of the victims of these medical “professionals”. We get some moderate gore thrown in here and there, and while it was not over the top it was enough to make you squirm in your seat thanks to Ruzowitzky’s awesome execution and camerawork. We get positive performances from everyone involved, and the musical score aided Stefan’s already spooky atmosphere as well.
Overall, Anatomy does a fine job of bringing good horror to this sub-genre, and thanks to a positive screenplay and good direction we get a tense watch that never relents. Awesome visuals and perfect atmosphere provide the film with all the materials necessary to deliver some good horror, and Anatomy comes recommended by me as one of the better films of this medical horror sub-genre.