THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ (October 1st)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
We've all been there before haven't we? You've had a few drinks with the lads, you have a party to go to later in the night and then you get a phone call from one of your other mates and you head out to meet him. Before you know it, you're in a morgue discussing whether or not you should be screwing the corpse of a recently deceased celebrity. No? Well, that's basically the premise of Hector Hernandez Vicens' The Corpse of Anna Fritz.
What better way to kick off 31 days of watching horror movies than to stick on a film about necrophilia eh? I went into it expecting something like Andre Ovredal's brilliant The Autopsy of Jane Doe but other than being set in a morgue, there are very few similarities. I've already basically summed up the plot but to expand on it a little, TCOAF begins with media reports of the untimely death of young superstar actress Anna Fritz who has been found dead in her apartment. Pau, a young orderly is stunned when her body is brought into the morgue he works and wastes little time in taking a cheeky photo and sending it to his mates (LADS LADS LA..oh no wait, that's vile). His two buddies turn up and Pau sneaks them down to the morgue to take a look at Anna's body but they soon get bored of ogling her and it isn't long before they are discussing whether they can get away with having sex with her (FFS). They decide to give it a go and...well, I won't spoil it by saying any more. Let's just say that it doesn't turn out quite how they expected...
This is a pretty tough watch in places, as you'd expect. The three main characters are all varying degrees of shit. In fact one of the three assumes the role of 'nice, sensible' one when in reality, he's still an asshole. Where Autopsy of Jane Doe focused on a sweet father/son relationship between Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch, the dynamic here is the polar opposite and from the get go, we're not meant to like this central trio of characters. The result is that you want bad things to happen to these people and that hope is the engine that keeps this movie running. It's quite a short film (under 80 minutes) and it rattles along at a heck of a pace. It's undeniably tense and although self-contained for the vast majority of its running time, never really ever feels stale or dull. More oppressive and claustrophobic.
The nature of the film after the first act makes TCOAF more of a dark thriller than a horror movies but there is more than enough horrible stuff here for it to cut the mustard as a genre movie. There's a bit more to it than just a standard gross-out exploitation film though and there's definitely some attention paid to society's obsession and fetishisation of celebrity and how fame dehumanises people. Anna Fritz is an object to these three people, she's not a human being. The attitudes of men towards women is obviously also on the agenda here too. These guys don't see themselves as the bad guys and go to great lengths to justify their misogyny and general wankerishness. Vincen frames the story and action in such a way that you are NEVER empathising with or on the side of the central trio and that all of your concerns lay with the fate of Anna Fritz. In that sense, although it's grim and unflinching, it manages to not cross the line into pointless gratuity. This is an exploration of the shitty stuff that people are capable of doing to other people and how they justify it and it needs to be able to go to those dark places that make us feel uncomfortable.
There are also basically only four actors in this film (barring a couple of brief cameos from hospital staff) and all four are really very good. Special praise reserved for Alba Ribas for playing a very challenging role. Jane Doe went through some awful stuff but poor old Anna Fritz doesn't have much fun either.
A brutal beginning to the 31 Days challenge...I may look for something a little bit lighter tomorrow (maybe The Possession of Hannah Grace?).