Wednesday, June 20, 2018

German Angst (2015/2018)

Directors: Jorg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall

If you have been following the site for some time, you know that we love horror anthology films. For better or worse and in the case of anthologies, a little bit of both. One of the cult horror films that has been bubbling under the mainstream conscious is German Angst, which has been floating around in various releases for the last few years, and it finally hits Blu Ray from Artsploitation films in the US. Now, when a film finds that cult stream like this did, horror fans tend to build it up and can overhype it as ‘the best film you haven’t seen’ and keeping your expectations in check is the best way to approach German Angst. Particularly because the film is much more artsy and diverse than maybe some of the marketing would lead one to believe. The results are impressive though and, while it may seem a bit slow at times or too vague with its narratives through the three stories for some mainstream horror fans, each of them delivers on their promises in some effective ways making the entire film one that more hardcore horror fans will definitely want to dig their teeth into.

Pets. New meanings, man. 
Like with all of our reviews of anthologies, we try not to review each story on its own, but the film as a whole. In recent years, more and more anthologies have tried to build a more immersive experience around the set of stories, either with a wrap around story or some kind of tie in to get all of the sequences to interlock in some manner. German Angst has no desire to do so and presents itself as three stories with little in the way of any kind of threading. It works for the film simply because of the tone of the three stories, despite their different genre approaches, where are all decently similar in artful atmosphere. There is an artistic merit to each one, a slow burn and subtle approach to their narrative, that works in letting them flow from one to the next. In fact, it’s not even clear when the first story really ends and when the second one begins as the fluidity of the storytelling allows that to happen. While a wrap around might have elevated the film just a bit more, this approach still works in this instance thanks to the tonality and effective execution. 

As mentioned, each piece of German Angst does have a slightly different approach. The first works more like a character study more than anything, the second spins on as a kind of torturous ‘wrong time, wrong place’ horror tale, and the third is a decent into cult horror for an artist through his own words as he narrates his story. However, each has its own fascinating approach whether it’s the strange build of the first one and its use of narrative that’s focused on Guinea pigs, the story within a story parallels of the second one, or the neo-noir meets Clive Barker elements of the third. The tone and slow burn approach to each keeps them aligned, but there are smaller elements within them that set them apart. The execution of each can differentiate them too, although the quality from each segment is remarkably consistent and high quality. Performances, the gritty visuals, and the artistic long shots are all impressive. Only the second story struggles a bit with some of the secondary performances and gore effects (which are pleasantly old school, yet don’t quite fit with the tone,) but overall the quality in whole for German Angst is strong.

It's rough being the middle segment. 
Unlike so many of the current horror anthologies, a trend that is seemingly still riding high, German Angst takes a more artful approach to its stories than expected and the results remain thoroughly enjoyable. The execution of each is fantastically atmospheric and strangely diverse considering the thematic threading. A part of me wishes that the film has some sort of wrap around story to really solidify it as a whole film, but as it stands German Angst reaches up to the cult cinema hype that it has accrued over the last few years. If you’re a fan of the artistic horror wave that is happening right now, then German Angst comes highly recommended. It's vicious and artful. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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