German Angst (2015)
Directed by: Andreas Marschall, Jörg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski
Written by: Andreas Marschall, Jörg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski
Starring: Désirée Giorgetti, Kristina Kostiv, Lola Gave, Matthan Harris, Milton Welsh
UK Release Date – TBC
For other release details see Artsploitation Films
German Angst is an enticing horror anthology that promises of a tale of sex, death and hatred with an endorsement from none other than Clive Barker. It’s also a trio of stories which features one chapter by the director of Nekromantik, and it has a poster which evokes Andrzej Zulawski‘s Possession. You can almost hear the cult genre fans creeping out of their tombs to take a look. Sorry to break it to everyone, but this crowdfunded effort is a mixed bag from the length of the stories to the quality of each one as an individual short film. There are some big ideas and some very gruesome sequences, but overall it never really gets moving outside the third and final chapter and things are never developed as far as they could be.
Even the title itself is very evocative, suggesting that we’re in for a collection of ideas about taboos and repression. This is partially true at least and although there’s no overall bookending narrative to the movie there are at least some themes that could be considered as part of an overall whole. With three different directors at the helm each one feels like its distinct chapter, and although there is some similar use of muted colours and eerie piano music there’s no overall consistency in terms of style and tone. There are however a few recurring elements from the sudden shock violence to the bleak outcomes in each scenario.
The first of these, Final Girl, gives us a day in the life of a young girl and her guinea pig Mucki. She feeds her furry friend, eats breakfast cereal and then proceeds to torture an older man who’s tied up in a bedroom. All the usual routine sort of stuff. It’s a washed out looking story that often feels grimy and unwashed, which contrasts with the nameless girl’s colourful magazine collection and her youthful features. It’s uncomfortable viewing with a lot of extreme close ups and a low depth of field that funnels the viewpoint towards certain images. Even the sound effects are heightened with Foley work that is often exaggerated.
There are suggestions that the guy being mutilated is sexual predator and this is revenge, but as things go on he’s reduced to a captive pet who needs spaying and the girl narrates the story with a distant veterinary tone. The narration itself is a problem as it goes on and on for long stretches in some scenes, particularly during a radio news report describing a murder elsewhere in the city. There’s no acted dialogue at all, and we don’t really get to know these two characters. There’s a lot of brutality and a few moments of self harm, but the plot details offered aren’t that compelling and we’re left to infer the details of the abuse and the mental states involved.
The second chapter, Make a Wish, is more complicated in terms of current day commentary and overall structure. We’re first introduced to a deaf and dumb couple exploring a derelict building where the guy tells his girlfriend a story about his grandmother, whose family was killed by the Nazis in Poland during the Second World War. This recollection is told through a grainy Super-8 style flashback with a lot of over the top violence. It’s incredibly exaggerated with several gory splatter moments that undermine the seriousness of the event. He then gives his girlfriend an heirloom which his grandmother used to escape – a medallion that can swap the consciousness of two people between bodies.
However before he can finish the story and say what really happened a gang of racist thugs appears to attack them. But again it’s very cartoony considering the contemporary message at work. One of the hooligans is English and starts yelling about immigrants taking jobs they don’t deserve while another one is a girl that seems to be doing a Harley Quinn impression. There’s way too much shrieking and overacting involved. There are some attempts to bring this all around to themes about cultural guilt and the idea of victims becoming the criminals, but it’s never solid enough to form a cohesive conclusion.
The third and final chapter, Alarune, is the longest of the three which at least allows it some breathing room to tell a more complete story. A man called Eden who describes himself as ‘Berlin’s best bottle photographer’ has a falling out with his girlfriend and decides to immediately go on to the internet to get another woman. He’s a class act. This is the story with the best production values as he falls into a world of nightclubs and secret societies where people wear masks. Of course Kira the girl he meets is not what she appears to be, and things slowly go awry as he becomes a member of a group that smokes Mandragora roots to experience the limits of physical pleasure.
Beyond the thudding club music, high contrast style, the fancy costumes and the trippy visuals it also stands out by featuring some of the best special effects in the film. What’s really going on while Eden is blindfolded and under the influence is kind of a silly reveal, but it really works as a story about addiction. There are lot of other ideas in play about sex and relationships however it feels more like a tale about people who can’t stop themselves and the damage it can do to those around them who just want to help. It’s no Brain Damage but it hits the target more than the other two chapters and ends the film on a high note. For those who are interested it’s the part of the overall package that is worth seeing, though you’ll need some patience to reach it.