Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dismemberment Courtesy of the Inert

Piles of decomposing corpses, sliced open to reveal internal organs in variously diseased or rotting conditions, most people might consider this unpleasant or frightening. But for the first year medical students depicted in 2006's Unrest, a fiction film that supposedly makes use of actual cadavers, all this is supposed to be normal. But how can cutting dead people open and pulling them apart ever really be normal? The tension between the common sense reality and the new one the students need to adapt themselves to adds a nice dimension to this otherwise conventionally constructed film with bland performances.

Of all the students we meet struggling with this new state of affairs, Alison (Corri English) has it the worst--due to lack of funds, she's forced to take up residence in the hospital, just a few doors down from where the cadavers are stored and dissected.

The plot eventually involves an Aztec god and a strange symmetry between the lives of Alison and the haunted cadaver that starts to kill people. It doesn't really matter--the fun is in the build up. The personalities of the central group of students are cliche--the innocent girl, the superstitious guy, the asshole frat type, and The Boyfriend--but they play off each other credibly enough and their slow exposure to their new world has a nice point of view feel to it--the manifestations of weird shit feel like realisations of bad dreams someone in the situation might have.

I particularly like the pragmatic manner in which they talk about murders they discover or digging around in a big tank for pickled cadavers. Sure, there's some horror in their reactions, but I like how all this is already starting to seem like the normal landscape.

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