Thursday, 3 September 2020

German Angst

Angst In Your Pants

German Angst
Germany 2015
Directed by Jörg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski & Andreas Marschall
Artsploitation Blu Ray Zone A


Warning: Spoilers on this one because
there’s not much else to talk about.


Okay so... shortly after I saw the absolutely brilliant Luciferina (reviewed here) and I was having to come to terms with the fact that nobody in the UK seemed to be interested in making that masterpiece available (or even giving it a proper cinema release), I finally found somebody with a Blu Ray up for pre-order in the US. So I ordered from overseas from Amazon as represented, in this case, by a label that I will really have to look into properly at some point, called Artsploitation. They look like they have some really interesting movies on their books, most of which seem completely unknown over here in England (at least to me) and so I ordered another one, German Angst, while pre-ordering Luciferina, because it had such a great cover and promised an anthology film giving us three tales of gory and sexual grotesquery.

I had already seen a movie made by one of the directors, Andreas Marschall... but wasn’t as impressed by his stuff as I thought I would be (although I still have a copy of Tears Of Kali to watch - my review of his pseudo-Suspiria movie Masks is right here). That being said he seems to have a great deal more running time on his segment than either of the other two directors so I’m guessing he might well have been the driving force that got this movie made.

Now, I will tell you right off the bat that, while I was impressed aesthetically with the level of blood and splatter on show in this movie, I was pretty disappointed in the stories themselves and I don’t think I would have made the purchase had I already seen this one at the cinema (which is why cinema is important people... it’s a shop window for your library of physical media... don’t bother with downloads, they’re evil).

Okay, so of the three tales in this one, the most effective one is the much shorter, opening segment directed by Jörg Buttgereit called Final Girl. Ironically, it’s the only one of these segments which never strays into the category of ‘horror film’ as far as I could tell. No monsters (human monsters don’t count) and no supernatural shenanigans either.

What it does have going for it is a real air of clinical detachment. The film starts with shots of a hamster crosscut with close ups of someone’s skin and then gets going when a very young woman wakes up in her apartment and starts telling us about why the hamster has an amputated leg. As she goes about her early morning routine, I was interested in the way the director shot the piece. He seems fond of picking out tiny little details from what is going on and then focusing on them while often eschewing a jump to a master shot. So, for example, he will latch onto some cereal and then milk being poured into a bowl in close up or will start looking at reflections in a tap. This was all pretty good stuff and it reminded me a little of the early films of Darren Aranofsky like Pi and Requiem For A Dream and why I used to like that director’s work a lot more than I do nowadays.

After a little while we find the young wife has her husband tied and blindfolded naked to a bed and she goes in and cuts off his genitals with a kitchen implement that looks a bit like a pair of garden secateurs, with much made on the approach to this act from her voice over narrative on the soundtrack. It was a little reminiscent, actually, of that mock castration scene in David Slade’s Hard Candy... but with actually having a pay off to the sequence. When she revisits him a little later, she stabs him in the neck with a scalpel and cuts hits throat and, between these scenes and which glue these two moments together, we get little clues as to the nature of their previous relationship... although I confess I couldn’t work out just what had been going on to prompt such violent vengeance myself. The abstract and wordless visual narrative of the back story seems a little too cryptic to me. Still, this is easily the best segment here and the one that promotes the most engaging and slightly uncomfortable response, as far as I’m concerned.

The second segment, Make A Wish by Michal Kosakowski, focusses on two deaf and dumb lovers wandering into an abandoned building. I suspect the fact that they are both afflicted with these disabilities is a metaphor for something and possibly ties into something else a little later in the segment. The guy tells the girl a story set as a flashback to a group of villagers being terrorised by Nazis in Poland in 1943 and the significance of a talisman he has. This sequence is very gory but again, very throwaway and naturalistic with it, so when we see, for instance, an old woman who has her head chopped in half with a spade, it’s brief but haunting. We then cut back to modern times and the two are terrorised by a group of violent thugs who proceed to torture and murder them... but not before the guy has used the talisman in question to bring about a certain change.

Honestly, I hate these kinds of scenarios in movies anyway but this one also seems quite politically charged and, again, the politics are way too enigmatic for me to completely figure out. In a sequence where a main character seems to be talking directly out of the screen to the audience and speaking about generational differences and what I imagine is some kind of collective German guilt for the atrocities of the 1940s, it felt a little bit too preachy for me and I was almost glad, in a way, that I didn’t understand really what the issue was. Frankly, I hate hooliganism so this segment really turned me off.

The third and final lengthy segment by Andreas Marschall and called Alraune is, I think, based on a German myth but I didn’t know that when I watched this... so the title made absolutely no sense to me. This should have been right up my street but I have to confess I found it relatively unengaging and lethargic.

A man who has just gotten back together with his girlfriend after a break up tells her what he did after they split up. It’s the tale of developing an on-line relationship and then meeting the wrong person at a night club called the Mabuse Club (probably a reference to the Dr. Mabuse movies, I would guess). He ends up joining a private and exclusive club of a 'sexual nature' at a private residence but things aren’t quite what they seem and... well it’s less than two weeks since I watched this but already I can’t remember how this one ended. It’s not that well done or memorable is my take away... although there is some nice cinematography including the use of some gialloesque reds and greens in juxtaposition which, at the very least, makes the segment easy on the eye. The lead actor of this segment, Milton Welsh, is also quite engaging with a good personality so, at least you have a main protagonist you can kind of root for. However, it all just seems such a tame affair from what I would expect of this kind of story set up, to be honest.

And that’s me well and truly done with this one. I’m probably not going to watch German Angst ever again but, I am interested in pursuing some of the other titles over at Artsploitation at some point, especially since they were good enough to release the absolutely brilliant Luciferina. Some horror enthusiasts may get a little more out of this one than I did and it’s shot very nicely and competently put together so, I guess it could have been a lot worse. Mainly worth it for Jörg Buttgereit’s opening segment, though.




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