A horror anthology roaring full speed straight out of Deutschland, German Angst is the latest in a growing resurgence of horror movies emerging from the European nation. Although the country is famous for its wave of German Expressionism which went on to influence tons of horror films (most famously Tim Burton’s earlier work) and is even responsible for the 1922 Bram Stoker’s Dracula adaptation Nosferatu, which many recognize as the first official horror film ever made, the genre was brought to a rigorous halt immediately following the second World War as a result of Nazi guilt being so heavily tied to horror films. Even to this day, horror films are difficult to make and distribute from Germany, with decades of remorse demanding dozens of comedies, and rejecting several based around darker subjects, for the fear that they may somehow be connected to the country’s sensitive past. However, promising filmmakers Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall, an Jorg Buttgereit are helping pave the way for genre filmmakers, as they push past censorship and red tape to bring their unique visions to the screen, and prove the importance of self-expression through their artistic skills.
A horror anthology divided into three parts, German Angst is a merciless, bleak, innovative look at the human condition by three men that have been raised in the aftermath of world wars, and doused in the guilt of their fathers. Perhaps this film is a gory masterpiece because the filmmakers behind it sought to push the envelope as far as they could when they were faced with so much resistance. Perhaps it goes back even farther than that, beyond the difficult studios, all the way to their childhood when they were judged harshly for not fitting in with German society as a result of being born elsewhere and moving to the country at a young age, or for fitting in too well, and being regarded as violent racists, despite the fact that they were too young to participate in the crimes they’re supposed to answer for. Regardless of the exact reasoning, one thing’s for sure: German Angst is the explosive, compelling, unforgiving hidden gem of Fantastic Fest 2015, and well worth watching, if not for its gut-punch impact alone.
Here are the segments listed as their own entities:
Final Girl by Jorg Buttgereit
She’s had enough. Torture and murder and torment have clouded her days, but now, it’s time for the cattle to take on the title of the butcher. With her father tied helplessly to his bed, and where the girl sits calmly on his belly, she’s prepared to bring the sharp scissors in her hand down upon his most prized possessions, in a gruesome act of revenge that boldly acts of declaration of her bloody rebirth. Director Jorge Buttgereit takes on a noteworthy look at vengeance with this brutal and unforgiving short, where the story opens in the third act, and plows full steam ahead. In this distinctive perception of payback, Buttgereit not only creates a story that sticks out with such intense visuals, but also provides a rare look at a woman on the path of retribution, where the audience understands that her actions are justified, but never actually sees her as the weak, hopeless victim — only the strong survivor.
Make A Wish by Michal Kosakowski
A deaf Polish couple plays in an abandoned building in Berlin, giggling and running and kissing in the empty old rooms. Their momentary bliss is roughly interrupted when a gang of thugs enter the building and begin harassing the pair, enacting upon these innocent lovers what has been passed down from the previous generation as an accepted form of prejudice in the form of violence, as history repeats itself in the most horrible way. Taught from the start to house an innate hatred of all Polish people, the German bullies resurrect the days of Nazi Germany viciously on these poor subjects, in the closed off confines of this dirty, dreary building, far away from anyone who would dare to step in and save them. Little do they know, but these attackers are about to feel the wrath of their own fists when their victims pull out a special medallion that turns the tables on their torture, and places the prey in the position of predator. In a brilliant display of the curse that comes with being born in the wrong place at the wrong time, director Kosakowski innovatively displays the behavior that stems from the leftover anger from a war that was so characterized by bloodshed, the ground is still stained with crimson. By using the supernatural power of an ancient object that allows people to switch bodies, he not only demonstrates the xenophobia that is still very much alive in German cities, but also forces the audience to root for the oppressor, proving that when placed in charge, power corrupts all people, even those who may have started with good intentions, or are just doomed to the fate of their family line.
Alraune by Andreas Marschall
Petrus is without a doubt Berlin’s best bottle photographer. While this may benefit him enormously financially, it hinders his relationship with Maya, his girlfriend who can’t help but feel that she comes second to his budding career. He loves her deeply, but can’t give her as much time as she demands, which is why when she storms off and leaves him, he decides to drown his sorrows in an online chat room. What starts out as innocent conversation eventually leads him down a dark path of sexual discovery, domination, and death, as Petrus learns first hand the price that comes with an addiction to pornographic, unrealistic expectations of women and sex.