HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
You've Been Trumped Too
Woman in Black, The
Elvis: That's the Way It Is
Man Who Laughs, The
Watch List
Giraffe
Kat and the Band
Echo
Perfect 10
Octaman
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
   
 
Newest Articles
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
   
 
  Diagnosis: Death Murderous Medical Manifestations
Year: 2009
Director: Jason Stutter
Stars: Raybon Kan, Jessica Grace Smith, Suze Tye, Bret McKenzie, Rhys Darby, Bryce Campbell, Jemaine Clement, Loren Horsley, Tina Regtien, Cameron Stevens, Laura Surrich, Shelley Venning
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: New Zealand once again demonstrates how to do horror comedies right with Diagnosis: Death, a breezy, well-crafted effort further distinguished by cameos from comedy folk-pop group/sitcom stars Flight of the Concords. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, amoral schoolteacher Andre Chang (co-screenwriter Raybon Kan) signs up to test an experimental drug at an eerily isolated clinic where he meets bookish teenager Juliet Reid (Jessica Grace Smith). Although creepily efficient Nurse Margaret Bates (Suze Tye) informs the pair that side-effects of their drug therapy include hallucinations, a parade of nightmarish visions, ghostly intruders, and weird things going bump in the night convince them something else is going on. A talkative junior doctor (Bret McKenzie) reveals Juliet’s literary idol, Charlotte Mansfield (Shelley Venning) committed suicide in the same hospital years ago, and later Andre finds the author’s last manuscript hidden in an air vent. Could the hospital really be haunted?

Diagnosis: Death is admirable in much the same way Braindead (1992) is. Where so many indie horror-comedies are content to trot out cheap gore and sick laughs, this goes the extra mile by including likeable characters, subversive wit, and moments of genuine pathos and humanity. For while Raybon Kan and co-screenwriter/director Jason Stutter weave a nice line in black humour amidst the tense, if not especially complex mystery, what lingers most impressively is a wry portrait of how people deal with terminal illness. This is highlighted in poignant scenes where a diary reveals Juliet is planning her own funeral (“I just don’t want my mom to pick the songs.”) or later admits the spectral visitors provide a comforting suggestion there is life after death.

A snappy screenplay keeps sentimentality at bay via some riotous bad taste elements, such as Juliet’s most cherished childhood memory being masturbating with her “Tickle-Me Elmo” doll and a P.O.V. shot of a suppository being shoved up Andre’s arse. Flight of the Concords fans will cherish the cameos from Jemaine Clement as an irate parent out to bribe Andre and Rhys Darby as his hilariously blunt GP (“Imagine a satanic torture from which death is a merciful release… if you live any longer I’ll give you a refund on this appointment.”), with an atypically clean-shaven Bret McKenzie landing the most substantial role as oddball Dr. Cruise.

Ebullient performances all around with special kudos for Jessica Grace Smith as the sweet-natured literature student and Suzy Tye who brings icy malevolence to Nurse Bates. It’s low on gore compared to past classics of Kiwi carnage, but Stutter’s shocks are jarringly effective, including one scene with Juliet in the bathtub fantasizing about the drowning of Mansfield’s son (Cameron Stevens).

While the May-December romance that ensues between Andre and Juliet smacks of middle-aged wish-fulfilment to a certain degree, the inevitable sex scene scores points for going from tender to surreal (the couple rendered as skeletons making love), and horrific (Andre envisions Juliet as a hideous corpse) before settling on tender again. It’s offbeat, imaginative and squeezes in a big plot revelation partway through - a conventional scene turned on its head for a surprisingly multilayered set-piece. By contrast the climax is fairly straightforward, but capped by an amusing pre and post-credits coda with Bret McKenzie.

Revolver Entertainment’s DVD includes a director’s commentary, deleted scenes and a very engaging “Making Of” featurette where the likeable cast and crew seem like they're having a ball.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4011 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: