Saturday, June 23, 2018

Anatomically Deadly: Anatomy (2000)

Anatomy (Anatomie) (Germany, 2000) 
Rating: ***1/2
Starring:  Franka Potente, Benno Fürmann, Anna Loos

Thanks to Wes Craven's 1996 hit Scream, the late 90s and early 2000s saw the return of slashers from a momentary lapse that started around the late 80s, unleashing a plethora of teen oriented bodycounters not only within the good US of A but also at an international scale with Germany among many European countries to cash in to the hype.

One of its entries follows an aspiring medical student named Paula (Franka Potente) as she gets offered a course at Heidelberg under the wing of a famous professor she greatly admires. But things isn't going to be as peachy as she hope it'll when one of her fellow students suddenly went missing at a party one night, only to reappear as a body for dissection in one of her class. 

Rightfully disturbed from what she just witnessed, Paula investigates the body and finds clues indicating this being the work of a secret Anti-Hippocratic society dedicated to doing ungodly experiments on live victims. As she further looks into this suspected underground circle, however, a shadowy pair is kidnapping and killing students from Paula's class and it isn't long before our heroine becomes their next target.

Albeit featuring your classic slasher cliches of sex and death, stalking murderers and the typical empowered final girl, Anatomy sets itself quite differently from your standard gore-filled hack 'n slash as it centers more on building its mystery rather than the number of bodies to be minced down. If anything, the film plays more like a medical crime thriller reminiscent of similarly themed films like Coma (1978) where shady organizations work behind the guise of well-meaning doctors and experts only, in here, we have your classic teen horror casts stepping in the place of hardworking adults, most of them partying, drinking and canoodling one another when not working on honing their medical skills, while others investigate an underground organization of mad doctors.

The movie's little mystery was workable for the times it was the focus, chucking in some obvious yet entertaining red herrings to throw us off but it basically resolves itself halfway into the run when two introduced characters are revealed to be our culprits, members of the very same secret society our lead girl is looking into. This revelation may feel too early for some, but I digress since it may as well have done the story some good in terms of direction as it tightened the intensity of the next plot half now that we are aware who's behind the disappearances and all we can do now is wait how long before our heroine catches up to them, in turn boiling down to a paradigm slasher finale with your typical stalk and chase action and more bodycounting to boot for the more "horror-inclined" viewers.

What it lacks in free-flowing blood-work and sizable bodycount, Anatomy makes up with shocking visuals with its "signature killings" being tortuously slow vivisection sessions. Most of the action to these kills are done offscreen, but the "less is more"saying goes hand-in-hand to these scenes as we get to see, if not the aftermath of the horrific things our killers have done to their victims, but also the painful and nerve-wrecking reactions of some of these poor souls as their insides gets removed one by one. Further adding to the macabre nature of these kills is the fact that the school has these artistically bisected and preserved bodies on display for all to see, which now begs the question how many of these work of art were originally kidnapped people?

Done under a fairly substantial budget, Anatomy pretty much got it made as a sleek-looking and beautifully shot teen thriller with a good script and talented set of casts, Potente and Germany's own Benno Fürmann working well as determined leads. It's shifty direction, slow middle act and near-dryness may not cater to slasher fans who like their bodycounters simple, quick and messy, but its unique blend of Euro-thriller and Americanized slasher tropes should warrant the attention of genre fans who can appreciate the hodge-podged blurred lines this movie created for the sake of a fun and interesting story. A fine, if not great example of an early 2000 slasher/thriller that deserves to be seen, especially if you're not dead afraid of hospitals and live dissections.

1 male vivisected
1 male stabbed in the back with a scalpel
1 male had his throat cut
1 elderly male implied dead from old age
1 male had his throat cut with a scalpel, slashed to death
1 female found vivisected and preserved
1 male succumbs to injected poison
1 male strikes a live cable with a scalpel and electrocuted, stabbed
Total: 8


  1. Have you seen the sequel to this? I read that number 2 distances itself from the slasher elements and is more of a standard thriller. So as such I'm not sure if this series (if you can cal it that with just 2 films) would be considered a slasher franchise or not?

    1. Never seen it myself, but I did read that it's more of your standard conspiracy thriller much like Angels and Demons and its sequels only, well, with evil doctors. So, no, I don't think this is a slasher franchise, but the first is definitely one.