So, turns out I was wrong with my guess for the first surprise movie. I actually already learned what it would be last thursday at the premiere. As soon as my /slash-buddy Maynard mentioned “Ich seh ich seh” (translated: I see I see, which is the german version of the popular children’s game “I spy”), it was so obvious that I couldn’t understand why I didn’t see it (no pun intended). The two writers-directors are long-time friends with the crew of the /slash Filmfestival, so it actually would have been quite surprising if they wouldn’t have shown their first feature film. As soon as I heard that this was going to be the first surprise movie, I wasn’t too excited though, since I had already seen it a couple of months before, in unfinished form, at a testscreening. And while I thought that it was ok, it didn’t thrill me in a way that I felt I needed to see it again so soon. On the other hand, since testscreenings are a rather rare affair in Austria, I kinda was excited to see the finished movie and compare it to the one that I saw before. Thus, I went into this screening with a weird mix of anticipation and reluctance.
Well… my reluctance only shows how little I know – despite all those making of-features on DVDs and stuff – about the real, actual making of movies, and the difference between some kind of workprint and the final version. Because in its finished form, I liked “Ich seh ich seh” a lot better than on my first viewing (where I would have given it a 5/10). They tightened the movie, the new music and sound effects made it much more gripping and scary, and the overall flow of the movie was much better than in the version that I saw in april. They also fixed one of my major problems back then, because one of the final scenes seemed to give what until then had been a great psychological thriller a supernatural twist. I still would have prefered if they wouldn’t have shown the person in the background during that particular scene with the house (I’m staying vague enough to not give anything away, but hopefully clear enough that once you’ve seen the movie you’ll be able to guess what I meant), but in the finished version they at least made clear that it was a POV-shot of one of the characters, which made it ok. And for whatever reason, the scene with the fund-raisers from the Red Cross, which kinda fell flat in the testscreening, worked for me this time, and was one of the highlights of the movie. Weird. My only complaint about the finished version: They relocated the “juice”-scene, which I think made the twist ending even more obvious than it was before. Then again, since I already knew the big twist, I’m probably not qualified to testify about that.
However, I do believe that most horror fans will figure out where this is going, some sooner, some later. I do believe that one of the early scenes actually is a dead giveaway, even though they manage to take your mind off it again later, with everything that’s going on in the house, and the dynamic between the mum and her children. Still, I’m pretty sure that most will already have figured it out before it is finally revealed within the movie. Thus, the twist is less of a shock than it is a confirmation, which for me is also the biggest problem of the movie. Other than that, it mostly works great, though. It puts the famous german lullabies “Guten Abend, gut’ Nacht” and “Weißt du, wieviel Sternlein stehen” to great, creepy use. The movie itself is a perfect combination of scary and – later – gory, with some scenes that I found difficult to watch even on second viewing. Both kids as well as Susanne Wuest give great, natural performances, and for a while, they as well as the writer-directors make you guess what’s going on. The family dynamic is pretty much off from the start, but the “what” and “why” are only slowly explained, and even though I found the ultimate destination predictable, it should keep you guessing at least for a while about what exactly is going on here.
The location is great, and they also had some luck with the weather conditions – the scene in the hailstorm looks absolutely incredible. The whole movie is extremely well shot; in that regard, it’s a great continuation of the trend that for me started with Andreas Prochaska and his “In 3 Tagen bist du tot” (international title: “Dead in 3 days”)-films, which did look like they might as well have come straight out of Hollywood. I still think that the second “In 3 Tagen bist du tot”-movie was slighty better (despite the nonsensical final twist) than this, but nevertheless, for an austrian horror movie, and especially one from two first time (feature film) directors, “Ich seh ich seh” is a very impressive outing, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next.