GERMAN ANGST **** Dir: Jorg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall. Germany 2015 112 mins
Here’s a welcome European addition to the influx of (largely American) horror anthology movies. Jorg Buttgereit, whose output has been sporadic since the notoriety of the NEKROMANTIK films and SCHRAMM, opens proceedings with “Final Girl”. If the title alludes to the resilient female survivor of slasher cinema, the story itself follows a disturbed teenage girl’s extreme actions following years of abuse at home – filtered through her childlike love of her guinea pigs.
Heightened sound effects and offbeat angles lend a suitably warped ambience to her lonesome existence while grim radio broadcasts exploit contemporary paranoia over religious extremism. Buttgereit displays uncharacteristic discretion for an off-camera castration but also startles with a bloody electric knife murder and a scene of self-harm that may not survive the BBFC. It makes you wish Buttgereit made more movies.
Polish director Kosakowski’s “Make A Wish” merges the whimsical (an amulet with magical powers) with harsh realities as a young, deaf and dumb Polish couple are terrorised at gruelling length by a gang of neo-Nazis in Berlin before finding an unusual form of retribution. The extended assault is harrowing, and only more so given our world’s renewed descent into Fascism. Meanwhile, a WWII flashback explaining the amulet’s origins offers an equally distressing SS assault on a family home that unleashes a grotesque microcosm of Nazi brutality and doesn’t flinch from rape, baby-killing and bludgeoned craniums. A bone-chilling, all-too-timely exploration of a society on the brink.
The final story “Alraune” offers another dramatic shift in style and tone, with Andreas Marschall (director of the excellent TEARS OF KALI) delivering the best-looking, most hallucinatory of the trio. In search of greater sexual thrills, a German alpha-male becomes embroiled with an alluring Ukranian woman, a club named “Mabuse” (there isn’t a more Germanic nightclub to be found in all of cinema) and potent drug from the Mandragora plant. The longest of the three stories, it offsets its throaty, noirish narration with ominous Lovecraftian undertones and a final release of body-ripping, tentacle-penetration showcasing scene-stealing old-school gore FX. Erotic and surreal, it’s a suitably arresting end to an impressively diverse portmanteau.
Review by Steven West