“German Angst” is a horror anthology, featuring three different segments by three german writers/directors. As with most anthology films, the individual segments vary in quality; overall, though, I rather enjoyed it. Since it doesn’t really make sense to talk about the film as a whole, I will instead talk about each of the included stories separately.
———————— SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD ————————
“Final Girl” by Jörg Buttgereit is a decent start to the anthology. According to the subsequent Q&A, he started off with the smallest budget, which might be noticeable here and there. However, he put it to good use. I especially liked the close-up shots of different items, like a water tap, different kitchen utensils etc. On a conscious level I get that they were mostly a cheap way to stretch the running time; however, I felt that they enhanced the mood considerably. Another plus were the quite brutal scenes which were included (which nevertheless, and very effectively, left much to the imagination of the audience), as well as the implications about what exactly is going on (for example, I got the feeling that it has something to do with child abuse. That’s just my interpretation, though). And I really liked the simple setup which made it easy for me to relate to the characters. The only things that I wasn’t too fond of were the voice overs (which weren’t bad per se, but I felt that they overdid it, thus they got a little tiresome after a while) and the shot with the man in the window at the end, which – if I’m not mistaken – calls everything that we’ve seen before in question. And I just don’t like twists like that. Other than that, it was quite well-made and enjoyable.
“Make A Wish”, in my very humble opinion, was the most difficult and problematic segment of the lot. It probably didn’t help that I’m not at all a fan of body-switch-movies, but that was the least of its problems. Hell, even I have to admit that in this particular setup, it’s actually quite a nice and interesting idea, since Michael Kosakowski uses this fantasy element to let the perpetrator and the victim switch sides, which definitely was a fascinating concept. I also loved the fact that the two main protagonists were deaf. Yes, it would have been even better if he would have filled the roles with actually deaf people (not that both actors don’t do an excellent job to portray their hearing impairment convincingly, but since there are probably not that many roles for deaf actors, it would have been nice to hand them one of the very few roles which are available), and making his victims deaf – and thus even more helpless – is almost overkill. But it’s something that we rarely get to see in movies, and showing their dialogue as subtitles was quite a clever idea. The other actors were great, too. In the beginning, I wasn’t that convinced with Andreas Pape’s portrayal of the main Nazi, but after the switch, he grew on me, and he absolutely killed it in the scene in front of the chamber. Mostly, though, “Make a Wish” is probably the most important and most relevant segment, since it deals with violence committed by Neo-Nazis.
Unfortunately, while I quite liked the idea behind it, I wasn’t that sold on the execution. The flashbacks suffered from too many splatter scenes that made the atrocious murders committed there almost funny (in a twisted sort of way), since they were so exaggerated. While I understand Kosakowski’s reason for including a british Nazi, the subsequent, constant mix of german and english got a little annoying after a while. And I felt that the character of “Bitch” didn’t work at all. I don’t lay the blame for that on the actress, who probably simply did what she was told to do, but I thought that her portrayal was faaaaaar too exaggerated. She almost felt like a caricature or a cartoon, like Harley Quinn come to life. She just was way too annoying for me, and repeatedly took me out of the movie. The biggest problem, though, is the fact that the whole assault was staged far too loud and hysterical. I get that the assault was supposed to be unpleasant, but I can’t have been Kosakowski’s intention that it’s unpleasant not because of what transpires, but because of how it was shot. Or if it was, that was the wrong call, IMHO. At least the nice, bleak ending partially made up for all that. Still, “Make a Wish” was the least successful segment in my opinion.
Wisely, they saved the best for last. “Alraune” was a blast from start to finish. It was by far the coolest segment, which obviously (mind you, I’m not a horror expert, but that’s the impression that I got, anyway) harked back to the best works of Dario Argento (as someone in the audience said afterwards during the Q&A: It’s the kind of movie that Argento somehow forgot how to make). It was sexy, frightening, sensual and unsettling at the same time, offering a highly effective and enjoyable roller coaster ride. I especially liked the ending. The “showdown” with the monster actually is quite trashy, over the top and amusing (in all the right ways) – but this highly entertaining scene is followed by a punch to the gut. This is something that Andreas Marschall obviously understands and does really well: The shock is even bigger when it comes exactly after something entertaining and/or amusing. Very well done. I also loved all the acting, be it Milton Welsh, Rüdiger Kuhlbrodt, or the many – beautiful, sexy – ladies, like Kristina Kostiv or Désirée Giorgetti. Probably its biggest strength, though, were the visuals. “Alraune” looked absolutely stunning, offering vibrant colors (I especially loved the shots in the toilet of the club, with the stark contrast between red and green) and many memorable shots. Together with the great music (hell, I even liked the featured songs of “Schlafes Bruder”, even though I’m usually not a fan of that kind of music; but in this context, they worked for me), the stunning atmosphere as well as the nice story that features an old (german?) legend that has been used far more rarely as basis for a horror film than other myths (like vampires, werewolves etc.), and you get a great short horror movie that I wouldn’t have at all minded seeing as a full-feature film.
Altogether (and weighting each of the segments equally, despite the fact that they vary in length), this leaves us with a combined rating of 7/10 for “German Angst” – making it a horror anthology that I can heartily recommend to every fan of the genre!
Read my buddy Maynard’s review HERE!