The Director breaks down why this movie is not your average medical thriller

With a pedigree in high end television commercials and music videos, Director Marc Schoelermann seems the perfect candidate to bring the medical, horror film Pathology to life. The film is about a group of med students who hatch a scheme to see who can commit the perfect crime -- one that even a fellow pathologist couldn't unravel.

While visiting the set, Schoelermann took some time out from his directing duties to discuss the film.

This movie is much different from your commercial work. Why did you want to make Pathology?

Marc Schoelermann: It is smaller but it's really interesting. It's not your average horror script where six teenagers are killing each other or whatever. It's actually... it's cleverer than your average horror film. That basically struck me. What's so interesting about it is that it's not really a horror film. Everything you see is real. We've been to the morgue a couple of times so there's nothing in there where we did it because it hasn't been done before, or we came up with some interesting ways of killing people. All the gore, all the blood you see in there is based in reality. I liked that about it.

Instead of going the Hostel way or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre way, where you're just finding interesting ways of slicing up people... this is all grounded on reality. This makes it more interesting.

A lot of your stuff is very colorful, a lot of your older commercials, are we going to get the same thing here?

Marc Schoelermann: No. This one will look darker. Everything I am trying to do here is to keep it as much based in reality as I can. I don't want to go for a music video look, or for something that's extremely visual just for the sake of it. Whatever fits the style of the film or commercial that I do, I'll do. So this is way darker. It's still going to look big. I wouldn't say slick but it's not overly stylized. You don't have the fancy, low angle camera moves, or tracking shots through people's heads or something like that. It's all been taken down to keep the attention on the story and not on the visuals. I think the story is really strong and I don't need to hide it by adding some visual fragments to it.

What's it like working with an ensemble cast?

Marc Schoelermann: It's interesting. Actually, I'd never worked with an ensemble before. I think so far this has been working well. It's a really good group of people. There's no egos. There's no nothing. It's fun. I'm sure it can be different but I've been really lucky with all of them.

Do you see this movie as being inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Rope?

Marc Schoelermann: No, I don't think it's really inspired by Hitchcock's Rope. I read it on the internet that people are trying to compare it... I never saw it like that. I saw it more like a contemporary, interesting thriller. Maybe the people want to compare it to that.

The characters all seem likable even though they're doing despicable things. What's it like working on a movie where there don't seem to be any good people in this film?

Marc Schoelermann: I think what's going to be interesting is that they're so alike, in a twisted way, how these people react and how they are. We tried to make them not too over the top. I think sometimes it's more fun to see people who are not politically correct all the time, or who are not just the main heroes because you can sympathize with it. You take Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, he's the worst guy ever. I think it's gonna be fun. They're good and bad in the same way. The whole set up of the story is so weird and so twisted, I think if you have the ordinary good guy or the ordinary bad guy, it's gonna feel a little lame. To make the whole story and the script believable you need a new twist.

This film kind of falls in line with medical thrillers. It seems to play on our fascination with where our bodies go after death. What do you think is at the core of that?

Marc Schoelermann: I honestly don't know. I think it's this morbid fascination because I think at one point everybody thinks about, "What happens to me when I'm dead." Nobody can really figure that out so I think what you go with is, "What happens to my body?" I think everyone can figure that out. I really don't know what the fascination is. It only came up in recent years through all the television shows.

What's it like working with Mark Neveldine? He seems really hands on?

Marc Schoelermann: (Laughs) He is really hands on. He's really fun. It's a good working relationship. We bounce off ideas and it's very fruitful. I don't feel forced into anything. We can play our stuff. He's very, he and Brian (Taylor; co-writer of Pathology), they're both very cordial in shooting this movie. You hear so many stories about horror in Hollywood productions, where studios stepped on you and told you what to do with the cast, how to shoot it and whatever. So far this has been the best experience ever.

There's a lot of dark humor in Pathology. Is that something you're trying to put into the story or is it coming from the characters?

Marc Schoelermann: It's coming from the story, it's coming from the characters. If you want to deal with dead people and stuff like that... if you make it too serious and not give the audience a laugh, it just becomes dreadful. It's part of the fascination that if you watch it you will have. If you're down at the morgue or your down with doctors, you have doctors making jokes. I think that's the only way to cope with certain things; with this serious subject matter. The film's supposed to be fun. You've come, especially, in a day where we've shot a lot of that stuff. It's not all the way through, just black humor and macabre things. It's just like for the past two or three days. We've been shooting a lot of your gory and funny stuff.

Is there a fine like with that between keeping it fun and, at the same time, I know you don't want things to become slapstick?

Marc Schoelermann: You have to be careful that it doesn't go over the top, because once you lose that it's like, "What the f*ck is going on?" It's more about collecting stuff. The way, I think, all the actors in the movie see their characters is they all know that we're walking a fine line. We could go over the top but everybody's trying to be careful to stay believable, and not just like, "Lets gross out people and do this and run through the corridors and stuff like that." Which is something where you would be like, "I don't think they would do that." In the end you will have to think, "These guys are medical students. They're not just like morons or jackasses or whatever."

Pathology hits movie theaters April 18th from MGM.

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs