Anatomy (originally released as Anatomie in its native country of Germany) sets you up to expect something a little more groundbreaking and disturbing than what the film actually delivers. The very premise of a group of doctors operating on live patients with no regard for their lives is fairly creepy, and the first visions the film gives us of this group are appropriately unnerving. But the film falls apart quite quickly and fails to deliver on its promise of disturbing images and subject matter.
Paula is played by Franka Potente of Run, Lola, Run, and her performance is one of the good aspects of Anatomy. It is unfortunate that Potente was not given a better script to work with, as her abilities to play a character stem far beyond what she is allowed by the story in Anatomy. All of the usual thriller conventions are played out here, but without any flair or gusto.
Part of the problem with Anatomy stems from the fact that it is entirely too predictable. With some films, this is not a detriment; after all, film scholars can watch some movies they've seen multiple times (like Psycho, for instance) and still enjoy it just as well as their first screening. But in Anatomy, the predictable factor weighs the film down heavily, as any suspense is lost even before it begins to build. Director Stephan Ruzowitzky does do a good job in some spots of coming up with creative shots and angles, but in almost every case these same clever or inventive shots serve no real purpose and do nothing to enhance the film in any way other than as quick visual candy. Conversely, the 'suspenseful' scenes are handled with so little care that you can always tell when you're being set-up for a scare. The shots become tighter; the edits become faster. With the exception of one good scene (and you'll know it when you see it), the scares in Anatomy are all strictly by-the-book.
Also detracting from the film is the fact that it all seems a little tired. How many medical thrillers have we seen in recent years? Extreme Measures and Nightwatch come to mind, and while neither one of those films was excellent, they got to this 'med school/autopsy horror' first, leaving anyone who watches Anatomy to make automatic comparisons. And since Anatomy really has nothing new to offer, even its good points wind up looking less impressive.
That said, Ruzowitzky's sense of setting and style is good, and shows a lot of potential. His visuals turn the school into an environment that is so clean and un-horrific that it's spooky, enhancing the creepy factor in a way that I'm not used to seeing. It's almost like the reverse of the classic German expressionist films, in which everything was over-the-top and exaggerated. In Anatomy, everything is instead bleak and sterile, each shining silver slab looking like the perfect place to spill blood. This medical school truly is frightening, and would make the perfect setting for a good horror film; sadly, Anatomy just isn't that film.
Stylistically, Anatomy has a lot to offer, and shows promise of great things to come, both from star Potente and director Ruzowitzky. It's script, however, lacks both creativity and logic; so much so that the negatives outweigh the positives, and you end up coming away from it viewing it as nothing more than standard thriller fare.