Morgue Review – “while it doesn’t exactly reinvent the horror genre, it does a lot right”

Morgue is an effective horror movie, rife with jump scares, and an ending that doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s a cautionary tale that tries to scare you, and while it doesn’t exactly reinvent the horror genre, it does a lot right.

The movie depicts Diego Martinez (played by Pablo Martinez,) a poor security guard who hits a pedestrian with his car. Martinez decides to flee the scene and leaves the body for dead. The following night, Martinez receives a call and is assigned to guard the morgue at a regional hospital. As the night goes on, the paranormal encounters begin to mount.

The movie is well made and acted, considering it takes place in one location, and is carried by Martinez. Some of the choices the character makes will undoubtedly have audiences rolling their eyes, but Martinez has the range to play a sympathetic young adult who’s simply in over his head.

Jump scares are considered to be the cheapest tool in a horror movie’s arsenal, but thankfully, first time director Hugo Javier Cardozo seems to understand a jump scare should go beyond the initial scare. For example, there’s a moment that involves a flashlight and shadowy figure which Cardozo handles masterfully. It’s a similar gimmick in the 2016 movie Lights Out, but the scene is more than just a quick sting of intense music and an unexpected creepy image. The scene lingers, making you sit in the uncomfortable tension, and then extends the sequence by showing you the dreaded repercussions of what comes next.

Thanks to Blas Guerrero – who handles the movie’s camera and photography – Morgue is a more effective horror movie. Guerrero has two particular shots involving the use of Martinez’s phone that really ratchet up the intensity of the movie. The first one involves Martinez texting his girlfriend (Maria Del Mar Fernandez). The long cuts of Martinez reading his text messages while driving makes an otherwise mundane scene feel much more important. The second involves Martinez and his girlfriend on a video call. A mysterious figure appears in the background of the shot, and there isn’t anything that calls attention to the apparition’s presence. There isn’t a loud burst of music or sound effect. Fernandez helps this scene as well establishing a sense of reality and logic to the film despite not having a lot of screen time. She’s the only one who can see the figure in the video call and she reacts to it as if it’s Martinez’s mistress.

Tito Alvarez – lighting and set design – does a fantastic job keeping things simple and effective. The climax of the movie takes place entirely in the dark and the way he lights characters and other figures feels both natural and supernatural. I don’t want to say too much here but you just have to see it to experience it.

The movie has two endings. One that wraps up Martinez’s story and one that contains a heavy handed message that death is not the end. It’s an interesting choice to include both since one is much clearer than the other. The second ending reintroduces a character, and it’s unclear as to who or what he’s supposed to be. Is he a guardian, messenger, specter or something entirely? The ending suggests he has a larger role than being a side character but the narrative never fully fleshes that out. The movie’s rules and logic also become unclear at this point.

Although the ending is a mess, the journey to the movie’s conclusion is enough for horror fans to sink their teeth into even if the movie seems vaguely incoherent at times.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The Big Comic Page was provided a preview copy of the film and the disc does not contain any bonus material except a trailer for Morgue and other upcoming movies.

Morgue is available on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD May 11.

Lawr_avThe writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511

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