AnatomyThis is Germany’s answer to medical chillers like COMA, TERMINAL, EXTREME MEASURES, etc., and it’s every bit as silly and predictable as any of them.

2000’s ANATOMY (ANATOMIE), headlined by RUN LOLA RUN’S Franka Potente (at the time the only “name” actor in Germany), was the maiden effort of Columbia Pictures’ German division. It was given a high-profile DVD release in the US, and begat an ANATOMY 2 in 2003. Its writer and director Stefan Ruzowitzky repeated those duties on the sequel, and went on make the Academy Award winning THE COUNTERFEITERS in 2007. It’s better.

The ambitious young medical student Paula is accepted into a prestigious medical school, which houses one of the world’s greatest collections of medical cadavers. Paula first demonstrates her medical prowess on the train ride to the school by saving the life of a fellow student—but then nearly faints upon encountering the corpse of that very student on an operating table during an anatomy test.

Paula’s instructor tells her to forget about the incident. Paula, however, elects to investigate her colleague’s corpse, and finds his blood has coagulated in a way that suggests it began clotting before he was even dead. She also finds a set of initials on the corpse’s feet that lead her to an ancient society of Anti-Hippocratic corpse-thieves that was centered right where her school is currently located.

This centuries-old society still exists, and its activities haven’t gotten any more humane in recent years. Its members, who double as instructors in Paula’s school, like to snatch medical students and operate on them while they’re still alive, and without the benefit of any sort of anesthetic. Among their recent victims are a slut who’s grabbed while having sex on an operating table.

Speaking of which, Paula is herself shtupping one of the ringleaders of the Anti-Hippocratic society. It’s no surprise that Paula ends up the society’s latest subject!

This film is extremely slick and good looking, and Franka Potente is bright and attractive (though not particularly sympathetic) in the lead role. Yet the script is ludicrously implausible: wouldn’t using live medical students for depraved experiments attract unwanted attention to the school? And why doesn’t the heroine, who discovers the school’s deadly secret early on, ever just leave? Equally stupid are the filmmakers’ too-frequent attempts at lowbrow comedy, which simply aren’t funny or perceptive.

The bombastic and overdone music is a further irritant, making a joke of the film’s most inspired moments. Those include an early waking-up-on-an-operating table sequence, in which the unfortunate patient witnesses his insides being scooped out and his hands stripped of their flesh. In this and other select scenes it’s clear that writer-director Stefan Ruzowitzky has talent, but ANATOMY overall isn’t the best showcase for it.

Vital Statistics

Deutsche Columbia Pictures Film Production

Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Producers: Jakob Claussen, Andrea Wilson, Thomas Wobke
Screenplay: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Cinematography: Peter von Haller
Editing: Ueli Christen
Cast: Franka Potente, Benno Furmann, Anna Loos, Sebastian Blomberg, Hloger Speckhahn, Traugott Buhre, Oliver Wnuk, Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey, Andreas Gunther, Antonia Cacilia Holfelder