This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
This film stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox, it’s directed by André Øvredal. The story follows a father and son who are coroners and one night they get the body of a woman. She has no name, no visual cause of death, and as the night goes on the two of them realize there is a much darker mystery surrounding the corpse they are working on.
I will start by saying this was a surprisingly engaging film that delivered much more entertainment than I was expecting. It almost plays out like two separate movies. The bulk of the first and second-act play out much like a mystery, or more so a crime-thriller. The third-act feels much more like a horror film, but to me the combination worked out great.
This movie told an interesting story that can hold your attention. It builds tension and suspense very effectively. This was a contained film with a singular location and a very small cast and it worked very well for what this story wanted.
The dark halls and confined spaces work great for the horror element of the film later on, but it doesn’t come off overly generic like it easily could have. The mystery this story weaves throughout the bulk of the film was an interesting one and the locations and dark backdrops add an uneasiness to the story that it managed to deliver effectively.
It was a very straightforward story but a good one that doesn’t get muddled up with an over use of jump-scares or unneeded plot twists. It keeps a swift pace and with strong cast performances it never lulls to the point of getting boring at all.
Like I said the performances were very good in this one. The bulk of the run-time was filled with only the father and son characters played by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch, but they were able to carry the story along very well. They created a believable chemistry, and to me their performances pulled the quality of the overall movie to a higher level.
Character decision making can make or break films like these, but they were both very good in this one. They felt like a couple of normal guys, who would react realistically to a crazy situation, and it resulted in holding my attention throughout and keeping me engaged in the story-line.
I also thought the performance of Olwen Catherine Kelly was very good. She doesn’t have any dialogue, and normally playing a dead body on a table for the entire film would not make someone standout. But in this one she was effective for what the story and imagery wanted.
On the downside, this movie was overly routine at times. It had an interesting plot that was for the most part glossed over in detail. The story doesn’t focus too much on the why of things like a traditional psychological thriller. It tells its story in an almost expedited style, and I would have liked some more depth to why or how this event took place.