When the second spoken line of a film is “There’s no service!” you as an audience member has to know what you’re getting into. Otherwise, why don’t you just go investigate a strange noise or take a sexy bubblebath or assume that guy who’s been chasing you all night is actually dead after you put a puny bullet in his chest.
Quick Plot: Credits roll over a photo montage of pretty young people partying it up at a Mardi Gras, because that’s where pretty young people party and get outstanding tax breaks on filming locations. We see the gang hop in a car—presumably intoxicated, though if so, these are the fastest recovering-from-drunkness humans in the history of mankind—only to get into a horrific accident on an abandoned road. Wedged behind their tires is an escaped hospital patient, which turns out to be quite convenient when an ambulance immediately hits the scene to recover him and hall in the group to clean up their scratches.
The average IQ for a character in a horror film is never high, but even the dumber ones should notice something amiss when the ambulance attendants roughly drag a critically injured man onto a stretcher then both hop in the driver’s seat to roll along. The kids never seem suspicious by the fact that the accident victim is clearly losing blood by the minute, something that is mildly forgivable if a) they are indeed drunk (though don’t act like it at all) or b) one of them wasn’t a former medical student.
The hospital, of course, turns out to be mostly empty save for a few creepy employees. In addition to the orderlies (Michael Bowen from The Lost and Deadgirl and Poolboy’s Robert LaSardo) we meet a very southa’hn belle nurse (genre royalty Jenette Goldstein) and a suspiciously old fashioned doctor (her Terminator 2 costar Robert Patrick). The kids remain as such:
-The Main Girl whose name I only remember because it’s my own
-Their Blond Friend
-A Russian Guy Hitting On Their Blond Friend
-The Guy Who Always Has to Take a Leak
Before long, all are escaping or experiencing extremely graphic stabbings, scalpings, and autopsies, all in the name of saving the good doctor’s cancer stricken wife through, shall we say, alternative treatment. In terms of originality, Autopsy is extremely bare bones. You knew that the second “No signal!” was shouted three words into the film.
But putting things like creativity aside, Autopsy has one vital strength: practical effects, and lots of them. This is a film more excited by visuals than silly things like ‘character’ or ‘story,’ and if you know that going in, it’s a surprisingly good time. Organs are tossed around like pizza dough, heads bashed in Irreversible style with a fire extinguisher, and intestines canopied on a ceiling like a baby mobile by way of Tarsem’s The Cell.
As for the rest of the film, it happens in a competent but never inspired way. The young cast is pretty and unmemorable. Veterans Goldstein and Patrick have mild fun, but it feels more like a paycheck job than any form of vacation. The biggest issue comes from the inconsistent tone, which occasionally finds chuckle-worthy humor in the macabre but more often than not reverts to a serious Dead Teenager heaviness. Had director Adam Gierasch (who also did the not terrible Night of the Demons remake) had a little more confidence in his abilities to get laughs, Autopsy could have been genuinely special.
The aforementioned gore truly is executed with gusto
Who are these kids again?
Even the coolest hospital orderly isn’t going to just give you a roomful of free experimental drugs
Family illness can be one of the great life altering experiences
Louisianan hospital walls are extremely soundproof
Autopsy is one of 2009’s AfterDark’s 8 Films to Die For, and while it’s fairly unexceptional, it’s also not a bad way to kill 90 minutes of Netflix streaming time. Ignore the fact that you can predict the big picture five minutes in and sit back for some creative kills, at least if that's the type of movie you're in the mood for. You won't care about anyone or thing onscreen, but as lightweight eye candy, one could do worse.