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Cadaver (Sop)

Film One Star
There was a time I remember that a film like Cadaver, an Asian horror, wouldn't have been shown at the EIFF, much less attract the crowd it has for the press screening - an almost packed cinema at 10:30 in the morning, the night after a big press party.

Now Asian horror is the accepted thing and a drip feed for Hollywood, and that actually puts more pressure on a film like this. There's more expectation from the audience and a demand of better and better.

I have to sidetrack and say one of the coolest things was sitting in the near dark waiting for the film listening to the soundtrack of Escape From New York. That's the Cameo for you, super cool cinema.

Plot.pngCadaver.jpgThe film follows a group of students training at a medical school to be doctors, just about to start their first autopsy classes. The truck carrying the cadavers that they will be using has an accident en route and one of the corpses kills the driver by falling on top of him.

When they finally arrive and the classes begin the students find that they are having shared visions and dreams, and that one by one they are found murdered in the morgue, seemingly with an autopsy performed on them and their heart removed.

The remaining students try to find out what's happening and who is responsible before they find themselves trapped there and the next to be murdered by the cadaver.

TheFilm.pngSo the pressure was on Cadaver, but I actually feel that it may have paid too much heed to western cinema in creating this film. With the new trend of more and more people watching Asian cinema, and Asian horror in particular, I do think that there's an awareness in Asia of this new audience, and that could well have been this film's downfall.

I wonder if they purposefully tried to create an Asian horror that would also appeal to the western audience, rather than creating a strong Asian horror and hoping that a wider audience would find it.

It certainly feels like they have done this as the film is dumber, more in your face, and far more explained than most Asian horrors, and indeed it misses all the aspects that make Asian cinema so strong. In a way it feels like a bad Hollywood remake of an Asian horror film.

Gone is the subtlety, that's out the window from the start. There are a few moments that manage to grasp it, but they are only there for brief scenes – the figure mostly hidden in the background, or the best example when the body drawer opens in the morgue and the body starts to creep out, this isn't too obviously done and really does have the feel of the film you expected.

It doesn't last long though and the rest of the film is filled with typical Hollywood scenes that are in full view and plastered over with “hey look at this” and “that means...” moments.

The dialogue doesn't help at all, now this could be down to poor subtitles, but to be honest they seem to fit well with what's going on screen, so maybe they are right and really are that bad. It's clunky and at times feels like an old 'B' movie.

Let me be positive for a moment though, there are some strong visuals in the non-traditional Asian horror moments, such as the excellent crane shot in the middle of the student halls. This really does feel like a Brian De Palma moment, following the action on split levels and all playing out live, but like the Asian horror moments these are few and far between.

The story is also very confusing. I found it difficult to follow in the opening and closing explanation scenes, you eventually caught the drift of where the story was going, but neither of these sections were as clearly pointed out as the rest of the film was, and it was here that it was really needed.

Not only was the story confusing but some of the shots were more so. There's one scene that highlights this problem perfectly, where we leap to the nightclub to see the larger medical student on a night out. The film just cuts to a shot of him there and cuts back, with no real explanation of why. There's certainly a hint that there's something more of a story behind it as we see the student looking in some distress, but equally it could just be hot and he's been dancing too much. It's an utterly confusing scene and carries no plot progression what so ever.

There are some good ideas in the film, but all in all they're poorly handled, whether that's the fault of the script or not I'm not sure, but it definitely is the fault of the film. There are also some strong story turns that would have looked great in most films, but here they are again poorly handled and against the rest of the film seem really poor.

Horror wise there are some pretty disgusting moments, particularly when they're working on the cadaver, it looks pretty gruesome and the make-up and effects are really good. However the very way some of these are shown in the film make them completely laughable and lose the effect that they could have had.

Overall.pngYou know I could almost have mistaken this film for a comedy, if it had been funny, it's just very poor in the dialogue, story, and the editing/film-making. Although there are some clever moments in the film, plot, and with the effects, the film never raises itself above a poor Hollywood remake of an Asian film, and a tongue in cheek one at that.

Search for Cadaver (Sop) on Filmstalker stores
UK IMDB Film Details
Filmstalker's Edinburgh International Film Festival 2008 page



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