Milo Ventimiglia’s name sits comfortably above the title on the poster for the suspense thriller “Pathology” (Marc Schoelermann). As the primary bankable star in the cast (Alyssa Milano notwithstanding) thanks to the TV shows The Gilmore Girls and Heroes, Ventimiglia performs competently as Teddy Grey, a medical student with his eyes on the prize. A lovely wife, Gwen (Milano), and a prestigious career in medicine are soon to be his. He just needs to complete his forensic pathology residency at Metropolitan University and he’ll be set. Simultaneously impressed and miffed at Grey’s intellect and no-nonsense attitude, most of his fellow doctors aim to make his time at the medical center as eventful as possible.
Jake Gallo (Michael Weston), the ringleader, introduces Grey to a game that consists of committing the perfect murder and figuring out how the victim died. The catch is that each participant must take turns supplying the body—talk about applying learned concepts to real-world scenarios. Over time, egos clash, drugs are had, and bodily fluids are passionately exchanged. The cool admiration that Gallo felt for Grey morphs into disdain—there can only be one smartass in the morgue—and consequently, friend becomes foe. Gallo proceeds to teach Grey a deadly lesson.
Unlike films such as “Anatomy” (Stefan Ruzowitzky, 2000) and “The Doctor and the Devils” (Freddie Francis, 1985), which explored the multi-layered beauty that is the human body, “Pathology” concentrates on determining cause of death. Running one hour and thirty-three minutes in length, Schoelermann’s film cannot afford to stop and marvel at physiology. The film has negligible desire in cultivating any sincere identification with Grey. Aside from the meek pathology resident Ben Stravinsky (Keir O’Donnell), none of the major characters solicit much sympathy or any other feeling from the viewer.
Alyssa Milano is a delight, but her ten to thirteen minutes of screen-time mark her as more of a distraction than substantiation. The gratuitously nude Juliette Bath (Lauren Lee Smith from The L-Word) and the antagonizing Gallo are almost cruelly clever enough to appeal to the viewer, especially since Dr. Grey is no saint, but poor writing keeps them tethered to an under-achieving plot.
The opening sequence causes some discomfort (disrespect for the dead juxtaposed with the Hippocratic Oath); alas, maybe I’ve seen too many CSI episodes, because in the end, “Pathology” arouses very little of anything.