Whether viewed as a metaphor for our starry-eyed society or perceived as a simple suspense flick, The Corpse of Anna Fritz is a gruelling, unnerving experience that will entertain and curl your toes but sensitive viewers may find it upsetting. Merging stalk and slash tropes with exploitation/revenge flicks, director Hector Hernandez Vicens harvests anxiety and terror via punching shocks and shrewdly weaved set-pieces, without shoehorning novelty twists or resorting to guts and gore.
Shot in the style of early David Fincher, the camera lingers in cold hospital corridors and foreboding corners while a subtext addresses our hunger for fame exaggerating society’s celebrity obsession. After opening with a news bulletin announcing the death of movie star Anna Fritz (Alba Ribas), we are introduced to a hospital orderly Pau (Albert Carbo), working the night shift where her body was taken. His pals Ivan (Cristin Valencia) and Javi (Bernatt Saumell) arrive to tempt their friend into a night out but are sidetracked by the celebrity cadaver and their overwhelming urge to (gulp) have sex with it.
Established screenwriter Hernandez Vicens’ first turn in the director chair delivers a controlled tale, mostly set in a morgue. Its cold opening instills indifference and leaves the viewer emotionally detached without an encouraging protagonist to root for, but powerful plot points turn the story in an intriguing new direction and tension evolves from the set up. The less you know the better but TCOAF buds into a formidable nightmare that clasps and disgusts yet remains entertaining.
Its story drifts into absurdity for the final act but with suspended disbelief, is forgivable. At a brisk seventy-six minutes, TCOAF should feel fleeting but seems longer than it is and suitable for the restricted setting. While the characters are often contrived and performances by-the-numbers, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the constant, engrossing trepidation. Short sharp shocks are delivered with consequence while the slick editing of Alberto Bernard and a threatening score by Tolo Prats mend well with the dark interiors.
Necrophilia in horror is still (thankfully) somewhat taboo so the shock concept may generate novelty coverage/appeal but while aficionados will find much to love, TCOAF is not just a film for genre fans. Its uncomfortable, pulverising narrative is realised with proficiency from a first-time director who is showing great promise. While the more immoral, deplorable elements may prove too much for some viewers, or those with a penchant for fluff, fans of suspense will embrace the endurance.