What does it mean to be a conventional horror movie? When terror and fear are the subjects, then any movie could truly be a horror. All The President’s Men is a horror movie about the goliath of the president running amok, a true serial killer. A Few Good Men is a horror movie about group think and another man’s monstrous view of duty as a badge of honor, one that he can do anything and everything to defend. If these movies are truly horrible, then what makes a convention. The only real tenet is the horrible must be some kind of exterior influence whether Michael Myers or Legion the demon that possess the little girl in The Exorcist. Hèctor Hernández Vicens’s The Corpse of Anna Fritz is a horror movie that encapsulates the horrible while inverting genre specific tropes. The film start with the death of Anna Fritz (Alba Ribas), a famous actress who died mysteriously. Ivan (Cristian Valencia), Pau (Albert Carbó), and Javi(Bernat Saumell) are three friends who decide to view the body of Anna Fritz. Pau works in the city morgue and has access to the body, so he sneaks them inside
The film quickly goes to the place that others would simply hint at a move on– necrophilia. Ivan and Pau decide to have sex with the corpse of Anna Fritz because she is famous and they’ve always dreamed of having sex with her. This is the most horrific part of the film. Instead of a fleeting glance at the act, the camera focuses on the men, showing exactly how women are simply bodies to them. The scenes of necrophilia are some of the most gruesome things put on film. Similar to some of the worst made slasher movies which seem only about objectifying the body, turning young people into body parts or kills, the film describes Anna Fritz as a truly objectified person. In essence, she is a true final girl, the name given to the lone survivor of a slasher movie. Besides the utter disregard for her body and memory, the movie also uses the idea of how celebrities are ultimately desired as a possession. Anna Fritz is disembodied long before she’s found dead in the bathroom of an industry party. Disbursed across screens, magazines, and social media, she is not longer a singular person, but a commodity. That these men believe they can possess her likeness and deserve intimate access to the vessel of their own fantasies is a commentary on how caged our imaginations have become with the idea of celebrity.
The movie starts properly though when Anna Fritz wakes up in the middle of being raped. Her eyes spring open and the viewer thinks she must be a ghost or witch, some entity thrown back from the deep to revenge herself against these rapists. Harkening back to some of Poe’s stories, Anna has awakened out of a death-like slumber that is never truly explained. Really it doesn’t matter why she’s awake, it is the humiliation the men feel at this violation that is the point that begins the tension of the movie. What the men who rape Anna Fritz feel is not shame. Shame is an emotion conjured from stepping beyond a point of propriety, of transgressing in a way that the action causes an individual to feel vulnerable because of some violation of a moral code. Ivan and Pau don’t feel shame, they simply want to avoid embarrassment and prison for violating Anna’s corpse. Interestingly, the movie ask the question that a show like HBO’s WestWorld has asked. Can acting unethically in a space without consequence really be harmless?. For the inhabitants of Westworld, we see the constant murder of robots by tourist. The violence of these situations, performed ad nauseum, asks the question does it really matter? The show describes how random violence, even in simulation, creates an environment in which inhumanity flourishes.
The seeming lack of consequences of the morgue asks the same question.Can raping a seemingly dead woman really be a kind of violence? The answer of course is yes. Treating Anna like a literal piece of meat, the men who use her body, inflict a violence that begets more and more violence. Once Anna awakens, Ivan and Pau decide they have to kill her so she won’t talk. Their friend Javi, who refused to rape Anna, tells them they should get a doctor for her. His insistence, regardless of consequences lead to Ivan and Pau killing Javi. Once Javi is dead, Ivan and Pau plan to get rid of his body and also kill Anna for good this time. The movie transforms into a kind of slasher movie with Anna trying to find a way to escape The conclusion of the movie is endemic of the violence that has occurred previously. Discovering Anna and Pau are colluding, Ivan attacks Anna and she slits his throat with a scalpel. Once Ivan bleeds out, Pau sits down next to Anna, only to have her stab him in the stomach repeatedly. The expression on Pau’s face shows the shock of betrayal. Anna’s repeated stabs show her thirst for vengeance and how the immorality of actions thought to have no consequences affect the world on multiple levels. Pau is surprised because he’s tried to create moral clarity in a world where he’s acted immorally. Anna’s final scene could be read as affirmative, the victim becoming the victor, but this reading doesn’t recognize the implications of her actions. The violence done to her has passed on to her as well. Used as an empty vessel, she’s been filled with the violence that was enacted on her. Anna Fritz has awakened, but what does her life look like now? Surrounded by the dead, she understands that the only way to live is by inflicting the same pain she received. The objectification of her body has been perpetuated. Now Anna must navigate in a world in which to survive means to objectify the body of others via violence. The Corpse of Anna Fritz is as good as its name, because the Anna who wakes in the morgue is not the same person. Her death is a true death, her life a nightmare version of her previous existence.