A rather striking opening credits sequence immediately lets you know two things: 1) you are watching a European film and 2) it will probably be better than American advertising made it appear to be. Extreme close-ups of nipples bring us unabashed Euro nudity, while the subsequent gore inflicted by the creepiest doctors ever (mostly because they are speaking German) bring us a superb modern horror film full of attitude and atmosphere.
The creepiest school uniform ever.
Paula, played by Franka Potente who shows up everywhere, is accepted into the prestigious Heidelberg medical school, where she soon uncovers a terrifying conspiracy in the shadowy halls of the anatomy lab. What is the price for medical research and advancement? While this film simply could have been about a crazy student or crazy professor dressing up in scrubs and dissecting the student body, Anatomy directly confronts bioethics on a rather grand scale. In fact, a tale of ethics is weaved throughout the story, as it toys with the relationship of the living and the dead, of science and morality, of research and education.
Channeling Dhalsim's abilities
This is not to say that Anatomy is some boring moral story. It is the year 2000 after all. The soundtrack is full of late 90’s American pop music. The med students are quick with snappy one-liners. The tonality is saturated with modern dark humor. In the meantime, the movie creates interesting characters—characters that you want to do well on their mid-terms…and maybe survive till next semester too. One of my favorite moments is when Paula discovers that the only person who topped her test score is Gretchen. Because of Gretchen’s voluptuous body and promiscuous nature, Paula assumed that she made her way into the school based on her non-academic assets. However, the audience and Paula are both shocked when Gretchen reveals her medical prowess.
I've never seen such a frightening scalpel
All technical aspects of the film are solid, as with just about every film I’ve seen from Germany. The atmosphere is spot on, with moody cinematography and crisply modern production design. However, I do have a few minor complaints. I do wish that the film had been scarier. The setup was there, but it just failed to maintain the horror factor as the plot revealed itself more and more. The doctors were much scarier when blinding lights, goggles, and masks blocked their identity. The story could have benefited with more patience and secrecy.
In the end, I was impressed with Anatomy. A stylish, clever film about evil German doctors…who knew?
P.S. I have German heritage, so I can say these things