Director: Hèctor Hernández Vicens
Cast: Alba Ribas, Cristian Valencia, Bernat Saumell
Watch The Corpse of Anna Fritz online in the UK: Shudder UK
Taboos exist in cinema partially just so they can be broken, although you would hope that when they are, it teaches you something about the human condition, or maybe takes a viewpoint you hadn’t considered before. When it’s just breaking them for the sake of breaking them, it soon becomes a cinematic willy-measuring contest of who can shock the most. Fair play to director/co-writer Hèctor Hernández Vicens and co-writer Isaac P. Creus, they may have some of the biggest willies around, but they also make sure you wish they didn’t use them.
At a slender hour and a quarter, there is a paciness to The Corpse of Anna Fritz, which, in all fairness, is hard to beat. The driving force of the plot happens 15 minutes in and it never stops from there. What that is, however, really is beyond what you’d expect most right-minded folk to get through. (Two men in quick succession having sex with a “corpse”, who turns out to be alive, with added talk of having to lubricate with spit, is certainly bad enough but we also have to see it in a fair bit of detail, all in real time.)
With a similar scene in The Neon Demon to compare against, it’s easy to see where the difference in filmmaking quality lies. The Neon Demon builds a character to this moment of diametrically opposed feelings of anger and sadness, culminating in a disturbing pay-off, whereas here it happens just because the filmmakers seem to think it will shock and disgust. It does, but it also shows they have nothing intelligent to back it up with.
The rest of the runtime is spent on the three men involved arguing amongst themselves with fists flying and blood spilling, while the “corpse” conveniently can’t move very well and has to rely on the guilt of the men around her for any help at all. It’s all presented in a standard template of close calls, confused loyalties and near-miss escape attempts which do nothing to thrill or surprise, before an ending that feels deserved but almost pointless in how straight down the line it is.
For what they are, the performances are fine. The hot-head, the nervous loner and the one who feels guilty are all stock characters, but Cristian Valencia, Bernat Saumell and Albert Carbó respectively don’t embarrass themselves, despite the material, and Alba Ribas is obviously very brave to take on her role, but gets little to do. The whole thing is also competently shot and looks like it had a decent amount of money thrown at it, which is stunning considering the material. The Corpse of Anna Fritz feels like a mission accomplished, but this isn’t a mission you want to see.
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