German Angst (2015) Review

GRIMMFEST 2015

germa1GERMAN ANGST (Dirs- Jorg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall, GER, 2015)

UK Release TBC

Combining the talents of 3 of Germany’s notorious filmmakers and allowing them the opportunity to create 3 different stories, GERMAN ANGST is one of those films that I was certainly looking forward to especially with NEKROMANTIK helmer Buttgereit on board.

His story that kicks off the proceedings, FINAL GIRL, which opens on a teenage girl looking after her guinea pigs and combining it with voice over narration which explains how to look after the said animal. At the same time there is a man who is tied up in her bedroom, blindfolded and gagged, and who the girl has some not so caring intentions for. The second story, MAKE A WISH focuses on a young couple who are terrorized and violently assaulted by a group of neo-Nazis, though one of the couple has an amulet that possess a spiritual power that may or may not be able to help them. Third and final story ALRAUNE follows a photographer who meets up with a girl online and ends up joining a secret underground club that holds some disturbing erotic pleasures for its members.

Its best to look at each films individually as both have differing styles and subject matters, though the one thing that’s in common with them is the sense of shock and nastiness, emphasised in particular by the second story.

germa2Though surprisingly Buttgereit’s section is probably the least graphic of the three. Aside from some genital mutilation which is shown off screen, this part has a more psychological aspect to it. Is the girl in question torturing the man for something hes done in the past? Is this a vengeance element that’s occurring caused by some past trauma or abuse or is the girl simply enjoying torturing men and keeping them as guinea pigs? The broken narrative works in its advantage as Buttgereit conjures up an uneasy and stylistic atmosphere with its one apartment setting, plus the use of 16mm shots combined with DV was a nice little touch as well recalling a throwback to his NEKROMANTIK days. Uneven but a strong start.

Kosakowski’s part is certainly a darker and nastier set up, with its focus on a couple being brutalised by some neo Nazi thugs, yet what makes the film more troubling and maybe interesting is the introduction of the amulet that can somehow switch a persons body and make them carry out violent revenge, as shown in a past flashback to a Nazi attack on a village which is related to the male deaf character. However once this is in use there is the possibility that even if there is a body switch then the deaf characters a just as likely to commit atrocities as much as their perpetrators. However this possibility is the films strong talking point as it might be the amulet has no power after all and that the grim truth is Nazism and racism is still alive and still capable of rearing its ugly head and committing its vile acts and the magic amulet and its story is sham compared to the brutal truth.

germa3The only let down in this part is the actress who plays the female member of the group of thugs, who becomes so annoyingly loud and over acted that its begins to grate and test the nerves. Yet one scene I did like in this part that adds a powerful moment is a speech given almost direct to camera by the leader of the thugs, who seems to try and make light of there victims being the martyrs and him being the accused and guilty and that somehow this inevitable role is justification for what has been carried out. Its one of the more powerful and darker sections of the anthology and when you realise that the director has mentioned in interviews that he himself has been victim of racist abuse and beatings and that his characters are Polish also adds weight to the subject matter and with the presence of far right wing groups still in Europe, this is a timely reminder of the dangers of racism and fascism and that true horror can emerge not from monsters but humans.

With that heavy stuff Marschall’s segment remains to be the more straight forward of the 3 story’s, with its heavy emphasis on body horror, eroticism, and slight giallo elements yet it also remains one of the better sections of the film, with a great visual style throughout and some strong scenes of gore aided by some excellent effects work. It reminded me in parts of POSSESSION, directed by Andrzej Zulawski, with its use of a deranged story of a twisted underground group crossed with some excellent trippy visuals and on the edge borderline psychotic characters combined with an air of sex and death throughout. If you have seen Marschall’s previous film MASKS (a decent giallo throwback worth checking out) then you can certainly see the visual and production style used in that previous movie as this part has a strong and distinct use of red colours that strike out and lend the aforementioned giallo edge to the film. Though it stands up on its own as a decent mad mash up of horror and eroticism and strange secretive goings on in Berlin’s underworld.

germa4Overall GERMAN ANGST is an effective collection of stories and if anything makes a great calling card for these directors to branch out into further feature films. The first two story’s are both strong, uneven, troubling and despite a few flaws leave a lasting impression and might prove a bit of a test of nerve and stamina to get you through to the final part which provides a much needed return to straight forward horror, with a beautiful visual and stylistic sense and engaging if slightly bonkers story, yet still retaining some nastiness seen in the previous sections. Unique, horrific, nasty and beautiful in equal measure that will leave you battered and beaten by the end this is a strong and smart horror anthology.

7/10

James Pemberton

About James Pemberton

James has been a horror fan ever since he was 6 when he used to watch hammer horror films on late night tv. He is currently living and working in Manchester, occasionally gets work on helping out with short films and music videos, and in his other spare time like to go to heavy metal gigs, cinema and horror film festivals and has attended Frightfest in London 3 years in a row, as well as Frightfest Glasgow, and Grimm up North festival. He is planning on trying to get to either Fantasia in Montreal or Sitges in Spain, some point in his life!
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