German Angst (2015)
Dir. Jorg Buttgereit/Michal Kosakowski/Andreas Marschall, Germany, 112 mins
Any of our regular readers will know just how much German cinema we've enjoyed in these pages, and how many very good extreme horror movies the nation has produced. So as soon as I heard about this one I was really excited to catch it – the return of Jorg Buttgereit to directing was obviously a key hook for me personally, as having emerged as a leading light in the field in the 80s 90s there's been very little forthcoming since. And although it's taken a while to get round to this film, it was well and truly worth waiting for.
German Angst is a three-part movie, with a section delivered by each of the directors involved which are basically unrelated apart from the fact that they seek to explore something uniquely German. We begin with Buttgereit's entry, Final Girl, which is a grisly tale of revenge taken out by a young girl. I could have told you this was Buttgereit's work without even being told – the visual panache is still there, and it's certainly a grim tale which is weirdly – but effectively – peppered with information about guinea pigs. It all ties together beautifully and the gore – whilst not ducking the issue entirely – isn't as gratuitous as might be expected.
The second of the trilogy comes from Michal Kosakowski, a relatively new name on the cinema scene, and his Make a Wish plays with the concept of Nazism and wider German racism. The story begins with a deaf couple in love, exploring an empty house in the middle of nowhere, when they are interrupted by a group of thugs – three men and one woman. Obviously communication in the first instance is difficult, but the intention of the group to hurt the interlopers is delivered in a pretty universal language. Make a Wish as a title refers to a strange amulet that the deaf man gives to his partner, which can enable people to switch bodies – something that proves a critical weapon in their dangerous situation. This one is very tense and uncomfortable to watch, and while some of the acting is a bit over the top overall it's a likeable entry into the movie.
The third piece of this triptych was the one that really worked best for me, director Andreas Marschall's Alraune. In fact I'd have loved to see this as a feature film in its own right, I enjoyed it so much. We follow a charismatic male lead in the shape of Eden, who meets a young girl after a falling out with his wife and is immediately and almost uncontrollably drawn to her. What follows from there is part nightmare, part erotica and part fairy tale and Eden is drawn deep into a secret society he simply has no understanding of and that will impact his life in ways that he cannot imagine. The confessional tone works well throughout, and the acting is very good all around in this piece. A little dig around and you can find this one is based on an old German myth (and subsequently a 1911 German novel) and it has that feel to it, with a more extreme edge, which is fairly little seen.
RATING: 9.5/10. To be honest, if you don't like these sort of montage or portmanteau type pieces, then German Angst is probably not going to be for you. For me, as someone who rather enjoys a short film, this one was something of a treat. Each is different in its own way, and as per the advertising does have its own uniquely German feel or connection. The veteran Jorg Buttgeriet kicks things off in solid fashion, but Andreas Marschall is the star of the show in closing the movie – I feel like Alraune will stay with me for a long time. I'd happily welcome a sequel, or even a TV series (Netflix, could you get on that for me? Thanks!) to see more of this sort of thing – there are still plenty of hugely talented directors in Germany to consider getting involved. Overall, this one is very nicely produced and offers plenty of variety throughout for a very strong 9.5/10.