30 April 2015

"GERMAN ANGST" (/SLASH 1/2 Mini-Festival, 2015)


Germany, 2015
Directors: Jörg Buttgereit,
Michal Kosakowski & Andreas Marschall


It's not that German horror films don't exist, it's just that there are so few good ones out there, you get the impression that German horror is more of a myth than reality. Unless most other European countries, Germany never really had, what I'd call, 'a real horror wave'. Aside from the expressionist horror classics of the 1920s ("Nosferatu", "The Golem", "Dr. Caligari") and the Edgar Wallace Krimis of the 1960s, the German horror film always had a hard time keeping up with current horror trends and mostly ended up with carbon copies of Hollywood productions.

Reason enough for three (more or less) well-established German genre directors to collaborate on a epic 2-hour horror anthology and create something that might kickstart a new German horror wave (hopefully, one that will last...):
~ Jörg Buttgereit, one of the very few German directors of the last 30 yers who was able to create highly original contemporary horror classics ("Nekromantik 1+2", "Der Todesking", "Schramm").
~ Andreas Marschall, Blind Guardian's super-talented 'personal' cover artist and director of the shamefully underrated neo-Giallo "Masks".

~ Newcomer Michal Kosakowski, director of the critically acclaimed documentary "Zero Killed".

First segment "Final Girl" was directed by Buttgereit (who hasn't done a feature film in more than 20 years) and although it's a good one, it's not as good as I hoped it would be, mainly because it suffers from the same old pacing issues, that already affected Buttgereit's classics which are all great, but too slow and tedious for my taste. The story which deals with child abuse, patricide and guinea pig misconception is very well developed and directed, written and told in a subtle but intriguing way, delivers plenty of fabulous close-ups and some really nasty gore (castration, beheading), but... I dunno. I was slight bored by it because it was simply too slow for my taste,
plus: the girl's voice = most annoying voice-over ever. - 6/10

Kosakowski's segment "Make a Wish" is a lot more harsher and brutal. The Poland-born director (who grew up in Austria before he moved to Germany) tells a disturbing story that deals with xenophobia, neo-Nazism, social exclusion of disabled people and some kinda 'soul swap', following a deaf-mute couple that gets terrorized by a group of ultra-nasty fascists. This was a tough watch, partly because of some really unsettling gore and brutality, partly because the actors who play the neo-Nazis do such a frighteningly realistic job (especially Andreas Pape). Okay, the segment felt a bit too long, and the over-acting of Martina Schöne-Radunski is so fucking unnerving, it's aggravating - aside from that, I, um, 'enjoyed' it, especially because of the sinister ending - 7/10

Save the best for last: Andreas Marschall's "Alraune" is not just the best segment of "German Angst", it's actually so freaking great, I'd love to see this released separately (maybe an extended cut?). The mastermind behind the incredible "Masks" delivers a fantastic little film that revolves around the magic and hallucinogenic powers of the Alraune (German for: Mandrake), a weird secret society that is devoted to this mysterious plant, and a young photographer who falls in love with an Ukrainian goth girl who's connected to this odd Alraune-club. By using elements from 60s/70s Italo-horror in the tradition of Bava, Argento or Avati, the above-mentioned German expressionism and contemporary non-PG-13 horror, Marschall created a powerful and extremely impressive masterpiece, tense and atmospheric, creepy and gory, packed with mesmerising scenes and images of sex and violence, love and hate, blood and murder, incl. semi-trashy monster plants, ghastly nightmare visions and one of the most shocking self-mutilations I've seen in a long time. Also worth mentioning: the incredible performance and voice of Milton Welsh, and the super-hot bodies of Désirée Giorgetti & Kristina Kostiv. Wow, fantastic! - 9/10

Overall: "German Angst" is not perfect, but it is nonetheless a striking horror statement that proves that Germany horror is alive and kicking. Let's hope there will be more stuff like this in the near future - and let's hope that Andreas Marschall will soon make another movie in that vein. Hell, this guy is great!

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