By James Rocchi,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Medical thriller mixes extreme violence, sex.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The characters are part of a secret society of medical pathologists who challenge each other to commit untraceable murders; the group gathers around their victims to analyze one another's technique and then holds drug-fueled, sexual gatherings to "celebrate" their work.
Violence & Scariness
Several murders, both on-screen and off, including smothering, murder by injection, stabbings, death by surgical procedure, and other startlingly creative (and violent) means of murder. Extensive footage of autopsy and surgical procedures, as well as post-mortem corpses and wounds, organ removal, and brute-force methodologies used to crack chests or remove skulls. Fistfights; assaults with blunt objects; slashings; stabbings. Characters literally make a game of murder as part of the film's plot. Discussion of a child molester's habits, past offenses, and predilections.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sex and violence are frequently intermingled. Pathologists use severed heads to discuss whether or not women fake orgasm; fist fighting and acupuncture needles are part of foreplay; a woman slashes her tongue with a scalpel as a prelude to a kiss; repeated onscreen sexual activity includes a sex act at a murder scene; a woman's clothes are cut off with surgical tools. Also bisexual kissing, extensive nudity, characters tour a seedy brothel, naked buttocks and breasts visible, and extensive montages of couples having sex in a variety of positions.
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Extensive and pervasive, including "f--k," "damn," "hell," "s--t," "bitch," "whore," "c--t," and "p---y."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink to excess (both beer and hard liquor); medical marijuana is abused; several characters smoke crystal methamphetamine; "whippits" (nitrous oxide inhalers) are abused.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this brutal horror/thriller is definitely not for kids, despite the presence of Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia in the lead role. It's full of calculated, ingenious, premeditated murders that are performed as an intellectual and moral exercise, which leads to lots of gory, traumatized corpses. The movie's violent and sexual content are both pervasive and extreme, as well as frequently intertwined (characters use needles in foreplay, have sex at a murder scene, and more). Language, drinking, and drug use are also frequent and excessive.
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Where to Watch
Based on 3 parent reviews
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What's the Story?
Brilliant young pathologist Dr. Ted Grey (Milo Ventimiglia) has accepted a position in the pathology department of a major urban hospital. His new co-workers are hardly welcoming, but soon charismatic Dr. Gallo (Michael Weston) shares his hidden philosophy with Ted: "It's in our nature to kill." Turns out Gallo and his co-workers have been killing randomly-selected victims ... and challenging one another to try to discern their inventive "perfect murders." After joining the group, Dr. Grey soon finds that getting out is much more difficult than getting in.
Is It Any Good?
Pathology is trying to shock audiences, and it does -- but at the same time, it at least does so through its characters and with bleak conviction. With recent PG-13 horror/thriller films like One Missed Call, Prom Night, and Shutter having breezed in and out of theaters, it's at least refreshing that PATHOLOGY makes no bones about what it is: A grisly, R-rated thriller. Director Marc Schoelermann has clearly been reading the David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club) playbook, as his film takes place in a visually majestic (yet still terrifying) city of secrets and conspiracies.
Kudos also to screenwriters Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor for refusing to take any easy ways out with Ventimiglia's character; Ted isn't a starry-eyed innocent embroiled in trouble, but rather a willing participant in his own damnation. The movie succeeds in its mission, with more than just endless buckets of blood.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the fact that the movie mixes extreme violence with sex. What's the difference between positive sensuality and fetishized mingling of sex and violence? Why would filmmakers gravitate toward the latter instead of the former? What messages does this movie send about sex and violence? Families can also discuss the ethical and professional checks and balances that exist to prevent abuse by real-life medical personnel. What are the stakes when those systems fail?
- In theaters: April 16, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: September 22, 2008
- Cast: Alyssa Milano, Michael Weston, Milo Ventimiglia
- Director: Marc Schoelermann
- Studio: MGM/UA
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing and perverse behavior throughout, including violence, gruesome images, strong sexual content, nudity, drug use and language
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
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