Two Thrillers from MGM
Hit and Run (January 26/09)
There's little doubt that Hit and Run slowly-but-surely squanders its admittedly intriguing premise, as the film unfolds too slowly and with too much familiarity to effectively sustain the viewer's ongoing interest. The storyline follows college student Mary Murdock (Laura Breckenridge) as she accidentally runs over a grade-school teacher (Kevin Corrigan's Emser) while driving home from a party, with the bulk of the proceedings revolving around the deadly game of cat and mouse that ensues between Mary and her victim. Director Enda McCallion does a nice job of initially compensating for Hit and Run's low budget by stressing atmospheric bursts of style, which - when coupled with star Breckinridge's unexpectedly strong performance - proves effective at drawing the viewer into the almost egregiously routine storyline. One's interest starts to seriously dwindle, however, as screenwriters Diane Doniol-Valcroze and Arthur Flam push the limits of credibility well beyond the breaking point, and it's hard to deny that the slow-but-steady shift from plausible thriller to needlessly abstruse mystery is exacerbated by the inclusion of increasingly illogical interludes and plot points (ie why on earth would Mary visit her victim's family?) And while the presence of a few decent instances of gore periodically buoys the viewer's interest - ie Mary temporarily thwarts her pursuer's advances by hitting him with the old three-pronged-electrical-cord-to-the-eye trick - Hit and Run's aggressively erratic sensibilities ultimately renders its few positive attributes moot.
Featuring a screenplay by Crank filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Pathology follows medical student Ted Grey (Milo Ventimiglia) as his morals and ethics are tossed to the wayside after he encounters an underground society of sociopathic pathology students. The cabal, ruled over by the sinister Jake Gallo (Michael Weston), essentially requires each member to murder an innocent victim in as creative a manner as possible, with the remainder of the group left to determine the exact cause of death. It's a pervasively absurd premise that's exacerbated by the central character's ludicrous transformation from uptight medical student to drugged-up killer virtually overnight, which - despite a fairly effective performance from Ventimiglia - ensures that Ted becomes as unsympathetic a figure as one could possibly imagine (ie the viewer is actually expected to root for this guy?) The movie's exceedingly uneven atmosphere is ultimately compounded by by Marc Schölermann's slow-moving, oddly somber directorial choices, as the filmmaker's straight-faced sensibilities seem consistently at odds with the unapologetically tawdry nature of Neveldine and Taylor's script (ie the material almost demands a tongue-in-cheek, Crank-like approach). The inclusion of a nifty twist ending and a few admittedly effective kill sequences notwithstanding, Pathology generally remains unable to overcome its inherently flawed premise and it's finally impossible to view the film as anything more than a sporadically compelling yet hopelessly inconsequential piece of work.