While writing a scathing review of a bad movie can be fun occasionally – and may sometimes feel like well-deserved payback for valuable lifetime stolen – it becomes way less funny when you have to slam a movie where there’s just the slightest chance that the people involved may actually read it. Or at least it is for me. So it is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you that “Die Gstettensaga” mostly didn’t work for me. It’s all ambition, but little talent and even less budget. In a way, the fact that they took as little money as they got and actually tried to make a postapocalyptic movie with it impresses me. Then again, something can be said about knowing your limits, and not overreaching. Of course, an ambitious failure is still better than a bland, unimaginative failure, but for me, “Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl” is ample proof that ambition only gets you so far.
First of all: This movie is a highly regional affair, made in Austria by Austrians and above all FOR Austrians. It’s full of local allusions that even most germans won’t get. Some of them I enjoyed (like “Niederpröll”), others felt a little forced. I also liked the concept and some ideas, but overall, the movie was way more miss than hit for me. The musical-scene fell especially flat. It was totally out of place, went on for far too long, and was extremely boring. It also wasn’t just me. There was zero vibe in the audience during that scene, which really seemed to work for almost no one. I really wish they would have taken the money that scene cost and spent it on a better lead actor instead. Because while Sophia Grabner actually gives a more than decent performance, I found Lukas Tagwerker to be absolutely terrible (sorry, guy). I do not consider myself talented acting-wise at all, but I feel that even I would have been able to give a better, more natural performance. Granted, the script doesn’t help him, and overall I’d say my issues with the caracter are “just” 50% with the acting, and the other 50% are the writing, but still.
There are a couple of nice ideas and great moments, though. I loved the idea of the “google wars”, the new world order after the apocalypse, some of the locations where this was shot, as well as the critical approach to the media. Also, there were a few scenes where the humor actually worked for me, with the border control a stand-out in particular. That was just inspired and had me laughing my ass off. I only wish the rest of the movie would have been able to entertain me even half as much as that brilliant individual scene.