When beloved actress Anna Fritz is found dead at a party, she is whisked off to an undisclosed morgue before the media frenzy has time to deploy itself and broadcast her location to the salivating masses. However, this didn’t count on a skeevy morgue attendant who likes taking pictures of attractive bodies and the appearance of two of his friends on their way to a party loaded up with drink and drugs, who harangue him into being allowed to take a look at the beautiful star’s corpse.
That takes you up to about ten minutes into the film, but to say any more would be too much of a spoiler of what awaits you, and you’re far better off going into it knowing as little as possible, lest the impact of any surprises be lessened by advanced knowledge. Suffice to say that things quickly go bad for the three friends and they find themselves in a situation with no easy way out, the extremes of each of their natures quickly coming to the fore.
While hateful misogyny is often utilised to lazily characterise unsympathetic characters, here its use is a statement of men’s attitudes towards women and the kind of things they convince themselves are justified if they think there will be no consequences. The worst kind of misogynist is one who genuinely doesn’t see himself as a bad guy but just a victim of circumstance, and whose protestations of innocence inspire seething contempt at his repugnant arrogance. The film makes such observations, without requiring them to be explicitly stated, and so avoids getting preachy or condescending about it.
The tension gradually crescendos with each passing minute, and is maintained by the constantly shifting levels of control each character has over the situation and the others. Despite the potential for trashy exploitation, the most deplorable aspects of the story are portrayed with a degree of tact; sometimes merely knowing something is happening is enough, without requiring it to be shown in graphic detail. The simplicity of the story is matched by the single setting, in which most of it is set, and imbues it with an atmosphere of claustrophobia that soon becomes oppressive. Freedom might be just on the other side of a door, but to attain it is far more than a simple case of just walking through.
The Corpse of Anna Fritz unflinchingly delves into the darkened recesses of human nature, where even the most reasonable of us can occasionally find ourselves slipping in our lowest moments. The film is not an easy watch, nor can it be said to be in any way entertaining; it’s short, nasty, brutal and utterly compelling.
THE CORPSE OF ANNA FRITZ / CERT: TBA / HÈCTOR HERNÁNDEZ VICENS / SCREENPLAY: ISAAC P CREUS, HÈCTOR HERNÁNDEZ VICENS / STARRING: ALBA RIBAS, CRISTIAN VALENCIA, ALBERT CARBÓ, BERNAT SAUMELL / RELEASE DATE: TBA