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German Angst - Pierrot Le Fou - DVD Print E-mail
User Rating: / 5
Written by Jay Creepy   
Monday, 29 May 2017
Severed Cinema review of German Angst on DVD from Pierrot Le Fou


AKA: Nemacki bes, Немецкий страх.

Directed by: Jörg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall
Written by: Jörg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Goran Mimica, Andreas Marschall
Produced by: Michal Kosakowski, Uli Aigner, Holger Hummel, Pawel Kosakowski, Michael Landgrebe.
Cinematography by: Sven Jakob-Engelmann
Editing by: Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall
Special Effects by: Michal Kacprzycki, Janine Kusche, Katrin Kratz, Inga Ross, Oliver Muller, Frank Schroter
Music by: Fabio Amurri
Cast: Lola Gave, Axel Holst, Andreas Pape, Matthan Harris, Denis Lyons, Martina Schone-Radunksi, Kristina Kostiv, Milton Welsh, Desiree Giorgetti
Year: 2015
Language: German, English, Polish, German Sign
Country: Germany
Runtime: 1h 47 min

Distributor: Pierrot Le Fou

If I could name one film in recent years that really needs a worldwide Blu-ray and DVD release, then this would be it. Fortunately FilmRise has since released this on Blu-ray and DVD with English Subtitles. Unfortunately for me, this version does not. I spent a few minutes in the menu before realising that the language would change throughout each story and I would have to guess work some, read other reviews for more clues, and gather the feelings off screen.

German Angst follows the popularity trend of short story anthologies which once died in the 1970s only to be brought back kicking and screaming courtesy of the V/H/S series, Theatre Bizarre, Hi-8 and many more. Having the legendary Jörg Buttgereit on board isn't a bad thing, nor is the heavy dose of atmosphere seeping through the tales.

If we don't count Jörg's short read through plays collected on the Monsters of Arthouse DVD, and the numerous shorts, documentary things and miscellaneous odds and bods, it's been a long time since he has actually committed anything to proper film. 1993 was the last time in fact. Opening on a clean digital shot building, we ease within and witness a few close-ups of a sleeping girl and her pet guinea pig. Very close shots and, whilst ominous music hums, they both wake up together.

FINAL GIRL. She gets up and snuggles on the bed with her pet for a while. There's photographs of herself as a young child, a lot happier and innocent. She is now damaged. Lengthy shots of unwashed pots in the sink, properly piled everywhere, and muck, grime, sheer filth of weeks, probably months of 'don't care no more' has ruined both her and the apartment. As she eats, her eyes are as soulless as a goats. Deep inside, this girl is in torment. She has been abused as a youngster.

Newcomer, Lola Gave, is ideal as this female time bomb. Emotionless, young, and, it turns out, plotting revenge. In the bedroom, a blindfolded, gagged man is tied and sleeping. She wanders in. Sitting across his legs she stares down. Her voice narrates that she compares humanity to guinea pigs, probably domestic pets in general. Guinea pigs also get neutered. Oh-oh, here comes a standard Jörg penis violence sequence. It's off camera, however, which makes it all the more brutal. Via flashbacks and pictures, we gather the sobbing victim is her abusive father. She isn't even finished yet…

Scouting the internet and reading reviews to try and gain more information for lack of English, I noticed a vast majority of reviewers throw rocks at this first story for a handful of reasons. The fact she sits on the loo, that for long minutes nothing happens. The sheer fact there are two extreme money shot scenes in a short story isn't enough. Jörg Buttgereit movies have always focused on the mundane trials of life and the routines as well as graphic crimson. In Nekromantik, people were pissing, in Nekromantik 2 the, My Dinner with Andre, parody went on a lifetime. Der Todesking had a lot of long panning shots as a mood developed. In his time away, has everybody lost their patience? Some are critical of Lola's acting ability. She acts blank, wooden, her days are an effort. Surely this is a possible reflection of somebody who has had her whole spirit removed from her? The self-harming and castration cuts away, but the final bloody detail is in full. Like all of his films, it is a reliance on emotions, the look on a face, the wince of pain, distant and alone. The music, for the most part, feels like a slow endless dance. She imagines her hands as coated in blood until she decides to end it and her hands are seen as clean.

Military-like drums kick in after a framing sequence of home video style shots of statues which occur throughout. I guess this next story may have a WW2 soldiers, possibly Nasty Nazis placed within?

MAKE A WISH. The couple are Polish, both are deaf and mute. They decide to wander around endless ruins of factories and warehouses in the centre of nowhere villa for a kiss and general bugger about. Director Michal Kosakowski makes a wonderful tool out of the vacated corridors and huge empty spaces. All graffiti adorned, lonely, still. The fact our loving couple only speak in sign language adds to the sense of stillness. It's eerie as we hear but a simple piano score.

He shows her a very old talisman he carries and explains the history behind it. Thus begins a WW2 flashback to 1943 and the arrival of Nasty Nazis (lead by a Donald Pleasance lookalike) in a Polish village. The soundtrack behind this made me think of composer and musician, Olafur Arnalds, which is a very good compliment. As a little girl hides and cries, the villagers have their heads chopped, babies are battered, women raped, all in detail. Making her escape, she is caught by the whole platoon who grin and leer at her. She raises the talisman just as a surviving villager approaches. It has an awesome power which doesn't end well for the soldiers.

Back to the present, they are chanced upon by a bunch of Neo-Nazis. Two of which speak English, meaning I can quote for the review finally. “Young couple in love. It's like a dream.” says the leader, a burly built ginger bearded man. The other guy is from Britain and is all: “Bloody hell, mate!” Jacek, our Polish man, desperately writes on a piece of paper; “We don't want any trouble.” Unfortunately, finding they are Polish, means the gang want a lot of trouble. The British guy is yells at them; “I came here to escape 'em! I fuckin' hate them! They're all over England snatching our jobs!” Very cliché. Most of what the mob say is so predictable, making them rather cartoon like. Jacek's girl has her head kicked in by the leader. Sprawled out and covered in blood she reaches into her pocket and produces the talisman. After the spirit transference, there is a lengthy torture and this gets deep into the viewer. Even more so as we learn of the bitter truth, a final twist to the talisman.

If not for the wobbly script, this would have had a far greater impact. The message fights to get through a cliché-filled nest of shit! And why does the character, Hilda, played by Martina Schone-Radunski, who has a fair few credits behind her name, have to do nothing but laugh and scream on and on??!! Fucking irritating and distracting! The three main characters play their roles well enough. Shame they're backed by such a gaggle of, shall we say, lesser talents.

Onwards into the big one. The final story is the one which gets all the attention. Many compare it to David Cronenberg in his early years, and the Stuart Gordon adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft. I can certainly see this, but I was thinking along the lines of Clive Barker's short story collections -- minus the depth of character.

ALRAUNE. Eden is a photographer who wakes from a dream or memory of weird things. By his side lays Mya. She asks what happened to him. “You wouldn't believe me.” he says. Yep, this one is pretty much 90% in English language. “Okay.” she replies, “Just try.” It all began the day she left him whilst he was at work. Soon afterwards he meets a girl online who invites him to the Mabuse Club, a loud night life edifice filled with leather, stereotypical seediness and dancers. He approaches a girl on the pole. She's his 'date', Kira, a Ukrainian lass who takes him into the toilets where they sniff lines off her thigh and play (behind them is a poster with Michal's name on which made us chuckle). Suddenly she sees things in her mind so she leaves in a hurry. Eden follows through the streets seeing her with a group of men. They enter a building. It turns out this is a members only club, says a sinister middle aged man. Eden asks what he has to do to become a member. “Accepting me as your master is a start,” says the man, “and to open yourself to things you would consider insane in the land of the day.” Plus the membership cannot be terminated. Yeah, Eden is up for that.

It transpires that the club is an elite place for the rich and adventurous. “Kira was the hunger for your desire. But what you get this evening will be much, much sweeter.” It involves being blindfolded whilst naked and cuffed, after smoking something from a bong. But what if, via a magicians trick, you can peek under the blindfold and see what is really going on? Eden gets deeper and deeper into the intense sexual experiences, and they get deeper into him. “They won't let you go, my friend.

Story three ends, like the second one, bitterly, but it lacks any personality. The idea is absolutely wonderful, yet no time is given to build the characters. Being this is the longest segment of all, it falls where the other two leap -- you kind of give a damn about at least one person. In this it's artificial people walking by.

Overall, German Angst is staring down from the high ground at most of the modern anthology sets. It has good concepts, atmosphere, and decent special effects. There is plenty of gore to be seen, especially in Make a Wish. I would like to think that more anthologies might emerge from Germany of this quality if more peeps found out about this one. It is a shame if you don't have a subtitled version because aside from the third story, there is a huge language barrier for those of us too lazy to learn basic German.

The Pierrot Le Fou label have added a Making of... documentary and a trailer, but what made me chuckle is the array of German dubbed movies from America, Spain, and the UK on the second trailer section. Let Us Pray, Here Comes the Devil, and many more sound so much cooler and sinister than before.

German Angst is also available on Blu-ray and DVD from FilmRise with subtitles.





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 Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 16x9
 Region: PAL R2
 Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo

 – Trailers
 – Behind the Scenes


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