The premise behind The Corpse of Anna Fritz, a Spanish chamber thriller, is icky enough to turn most viewers away. It’s also of the “just-go-with-it” variety that, in order for the film to work, one must be willing to allow his or her suspension of disbelief. As the directorial debut of novelist and screenwriter Hèctor Hernández Vicens (who co-wrote the script with Isaac P. Creus), the film is consistently tense, but rather than shocking us beyond the setup, it’s more interested in exploring the basic instincts of the male id.
After being pronounced dead in the bathroom of a private party, the body of beloved actress Anna Fritz (Alba Ribas) gets rolled into the morgue. Gearing up for a party, pals Ivan (Cristian Valencia) and Javi (Bernat Saumell) stop at the morgue to visit their orderly friend Pau (Albert Carbó), who lets them in to see Anna. Once Pau starts joking with his friends that he has had some fun with the attractive bodies in the past, Ivan decides to do the deed on Anna, while Javi wants nothing to do with it. Pau gets his turn on top of Anna, but in the middle of the action, Anna opens her eyes. That’s probably all that should be said.
Morally and thematically, The Corpse of Anna Fritz is cynical and reprehensible, but on a visceral level, it is expertly crafted. Without any supernatural leanings, it is more of a necrophilia-turned-rape horror film that you never knew you wanted to see, raising interesting questions you probably never knew could be questions, too. In a cleverly morbid introduction, the audio of a media report praises Anna Fritz as she is being rolled down the hallway on a gurney. It’s soon learned that she was found dead in the bathroom of a private party, but how she is able to come to while she’s being, essentially, raped is never made clear. One is just better off treating it as the MacGuffin writer-director Hèctor Hernández Vicens and co-writer Isaac P. Creus want it to be. As a result, Alba Ribas doesn’t have much more to do than be a breathing body on a slab. As a helpless victim to two men with an incomplete use of her paralyzed body, Ribas is emotionally available and unexpectedly compelling in the role, allowing the viewer to root for her escape. In the order of playing despicable to less so with an actual soul as Ivan, Pau and Javi, Cristian Valencia, Albert Carbó and Bernat Saumell are effective in their own shades of morality.
75 minutes of material is about all that’s here, so to its credit, “The Corpse of Anna Fritz” is 75 minutes’ worth of lean storytelling that never wastes time to get drawn-out or needlessly complicated. Cutting his teeth on a simple setup with only four characters and a handful of extras in one location, director Vicens also blesses his film with cinematographer Richard Canyellas’ sleek lensing. It doesn’t entirely hold up to close scrutiny, but it’s hard to turn away from this perversely involving scenario.
The Corpse of Anna Fritz is available exclusively on VOD via Flixfling.com.