Not for the light of heart, Hector Hernandez Vicens’ The Corpse of Anna Fritz was one fo the most uncomfortable horror experiences at Dead by Dawn 2016. Amidst the camp and crazy likes of Der Bunker and Antibirth, Vicens’ debut film proved a horrifying tone-changer on the Edinburgh horror festival line-up, but a bold and thrilling feature debut.
Pau (Albert Carbo) is a morgue orderly who likes to send pictures of the more unique corpses to his friends Ivan (Cristian Valencia) and Javi (Bernat Saumell). After the body of a famous and beautiful actress (the titular Anna Fritz played by Alba Ribas) secretly arrives, Pau messages his coked-up pals, and what should have been a quiet graveyard shift turns into a night of terror.
The Corpse of Anna Fritz is not a pleasant viewing experience; it’s a dangerously sordid tale that poses scenarios which, though not quite exploitative, are at least cruel. Anna Fritz, the gorgeous starlet, is characterised as something of an Angelina Jolie, or even a Diana, someone who commands the love and admiration of the world over. The men who decide to rape her corpse are despicably macho and ultimately cruel, and all fall victim to the fallout of their own anxiety and guilt. Only Pau is granted a degree of sympathy: he clearly didn’t mean for things to go this far, but then he’s still a douche who snaps pictures of dead folk.
Of course things aren’t quite as they seem, after the initial disgrace of necrophilia Vicens supplies a further horrifying twist the rest of the film tries to deal with. The second half of The Corpse of Anna Fritz loses some of the shock but successfully manages moments of stark tension that will have any hardened audience member on the edge of their seat. Thankfully, Vicens knows an audience won’t have the patience for a gruelling full length necrophilia thriller so opts for tight pace and tension, keeping the film at a short and nasty seventy five minutes.
Ricard Canyellas’ cold grey cinematography transforms the entire hospital basement into an extension of the morgue, ensuring there’s an uncomfortable claustrophia to pretty much every shot. The claustrophobia is a huge part of the film’s success as an affecting horror work, helping to elicit an air of panic and guilt in the audience; a cold feeling of unease few films can successfully execute without overstaying their welcome.
A cruel journey into necrophilia and rape-revenge void of the “badass” elements of many other exploitative horror ventures, The Corpse of Anna Fritz is surprisingly real. Vicens’ ability to not get caught up the horror of his core idea shows promising control.
Dir. Hector Hernandez Vicens
Stars: Albert Carbo, Cristian Valencia, Bernat Saumell, Alba Ribas