German Angst is a privately funded trilogy of middling length movies all centred in Berlin. It opens with Final Girl, by Jörg Buttgereit of Nekromantik infamy (the most romantically shot film about a threesome with a corpse you are likely to see). His film is a slightly claustrophobic torture piece almost entirely shot within a small apartment in student house levels of squalor. It follows a psychopathic young woman’s day which mostly consists of caring for her guinea pigs and mutilating the genitals of her male victim, with strange parallels made between the two.
It manages to feel like more than your average torture flick by utilising extreme close-ups to focus in on the minute details of what little reaction our lead has. This makes the film feel bizarrely personal, despite its vulgar content. From what little experience I have of Buttgereit’s work, it seems that this is his staple; to try and convey his strange affection for violence and death. Beyond the style there does seem to be some plotting at work, with some revelations as to who her captive is, why he is being punished and possibly some questions raised on the reality of the situation. Though to be honest, it felt a bit muddled and proved difficult to piece together.
“Make a Wish is Freaky Friday, if it was all about German guilt with more Nazis and infanticide”
Next in the Trilogy is Make a Wish by the Polish born Michal Kosakowski, known for his documentary Zero Killed in which average people are given the opportunity to direct and film their own murder fantasies. Make a Wish is Freaky Friday, if it was all about German guilt with more Nazis and infanticide. It is justified to describe it as odd. To elaborate, a deaf and dumb couple go on a date in a beautifully dilapidated building in central Berlin. Once inside, our Polish protagonist gifts his partner a family heirloom that lets you switch bodies and tells her of how it saved some of his family during WW2. The tale is interrupted by a bizarrely multicultural gang that feel like the jocks in some 80s high school film, if a bit more violent.
In the Q&A following the film with the creator Kosakowski, he told us the reason for their inter-nationality is to show that, “Nazis are everywhere, both in Germany and abroad”, but in the end it just served to be distracting. Despite this the film has some decent brutality and actually feels like it uses it to make a point about the guilt that follows violence, whether in retaliation or revenge. It even goes so far to have some (somewhat shaky) allusions to modern tensions between Germany and Poland. Not bad for a film that is essentially Freaky Friday.
Rounding it off is Alraune, or Mandrake by Andreas Marshall. While still violent, violence is not the focus of the film and instead our attention is diverted towards lust. Due to this, Marshall’s contribution manages to feel like the most thought-out of the three films. It is told through a kind of clunky framed narrative, that tells the story of a photographer who is bored of his sex life and looking for something new. He attempts to meet up with a woman he met online by venturing into Berlin’s nightlife. There he finds a woman who is part of a secret club that promises to fulfil all sexual desires. The film attempts to evoke a dreamlike feeling and the sense of a secret underground world that exists under your nose, and does somewhat succeed. However in the end it just doesn’t have enough substance, visually or thematically, to have any lasting effect. German Angst is worth a watch, but if you do find that this story is your favourite, you should probably be watching David Cronenberg’s Videodrome instead.
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