Running Time: 76 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist and Reviewer
Available on DVD and exclusively online at flixfling.com
Films that have used morgues as a location for scares are usually onto a winner. Whether it be the dim, flickering lighting or the eerie silence, it has been used to great effect in chillers such as Nightwatch (1997), Coma (1977) and Re-Animator (1985). The chase set-piece in Coma freaked the hell out me when I was young. That repellent moment when the villain is covered with falling cadavers. It stayed with me for years. Vicens has used the setting to his advantage in his tense and uncomfortable thriller, The Corpse of Anna Fritz.
When the body of the young and beautiful titular actress (Alba Ribas) turns up at the local hospital, mortuary attendant, Pau (Albert Carbo) is tasked with cleaning and prepping her body. After recognizing her face he immediately texts a photo of the cadaver to his to his friends, the impulsive and thoughtless Ivan (Cristian Valencia) and the level headed Javi (Bernat Sawmell). Curiosity gets the better of the young men and Pau sneaks them in. After inspecting the near perfect form of Anna, Ivan decides to have sex with the actress for bragging rights with his friends. Although Javi can’t stomach the act, Pau is willing to violate the body having committed similar sex acts on previous occasions. What the men don’t bargain on is that Anna is not dead and wakes up during the repugnant act. Having been caught with his trousers down and with both men now guilty of rape, a decision is required as to what to do with the actress? No one knows she is alive apart from them. To say anymore regards where the story goes after this would be a disservice to a tight and impressive first feature from Vicens.
The first thing that stands out is how wonderfully cinematic the project is. The lighting, camera angles and editing are really first rate. If you combine that with four talented actors that make the most of their roles, then everything slots nicely into place. I particularly enjoyed the rivalry between Ivan and Javi. Both men are strong willed and have very different opinions on how they should react and deal with their predicament. Pau is the weaker and more gullible of the three men and sits on the fence, perhaps leaning to Ivan’s argument due to the severe consequences of his actions. This builds the tension and suspense to heart pumping levels before any drop of blood is spilled and there is certainly going to be a lot of cleaning up to do before the final credits. I should also mention the contribution of the stunning Alba Ribas that does nothing more than lie in a dormant state while being poked and prodded for the first act. When she finally becomes a personality in the proceedings her character is revealed to be resourceful, cunning and reactive.
The Corpse of Anna Fritz is a fast moving, heart in your mouth shocker with no filler and more twists and turns than a Highland road. Perhaps the only negative aspect of the feature is that it feels like a short movie stretched out to make a suitable running time for a full length feature. It would have been a fantastic addition to an anthology style film. There is also no mention as to why Anna got to the morgue in the first place without anyone realizing she was still alive. Was she drugged? Are the Spanish medical authorities slacking in their duties?
The subject matter may be a tad too taboo for mainstream audiences, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t receive an unsubtle and crude American remake in the not too distant future. Although the rape scenes in this version are shocking, they are never exploitative or titillating. That is unless the viewer found scenes in Irreversible or A Serbian Film sexy. Perhaps it wouldn’t be a wise film choice to take a first date to? You might find yourself slurping your noodles at a table for one afterwards.