Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Horror Film Review

Rammbock - Berlin Undead (2010):  Zombie flick from Germany.  It's like Rear Window meets Night of the Living Dead.  Sort of.  I saw the trailer on the DVD of another horror movie I'm not going to bother reviewing and was intrigued.  So I found it on Netflix as a "watch instantly" selection and gave it a go.  Glad I did.

One surprise was that they managed to make a 60-minute movie feel full length.  They didn't screw around with much set-up or exposition.  A frumpy, middle-aged guy, Michael (Michael Fuith), returns to his ex-girlfriend's apartment complex to reluctantly return his key.  He's kind of pathetic, really.  In her apartment, he finds a plumber and teenage apprentice Harper (Theo Trebs) just as the plumber starts turning undead.  Girlfriend Gabi (Anna Graczyk) is nowhere to be found.

Michael and Harper manage to get the plumber out and then barricade themselves inside.  We learn from TV and radio all hell's breaking loose in Berlin, that the government's got big ships on the rivers taking in refugees, and most curious of all, that even if you get infected, you can stave off turning into a zombie if you can keep calm enough to prevent your adrenaline from pumping.  Sedatives are in high demand.  Then the power goes out, there's running and screaming and eating...  They guys eventually hook up with a couple of other residents and devise a plan to reach a small boat that can take them to the refugee ships.  Young Harper discovers that, for whatever reason, camera flashes drive the zombies away so the plan isn't a too much of a suicide mission.  As you may very well imagine, not everybody makes it.

A few things worth mentioning:  These zombies are...different.  Besides the adrenaline thing, they die pretty easy.  A two-story fall will kill them.  And they foam at the mouth a lot.  It's like a bad case of rabies.  Still, they got freaky eyes and and are fast as hell.  Another thing is Harper.  He's probably 16 or 17 and too pretty.  He's not effeminate or gay as one might expect, though.  I'm thinking it was done as a perfect contrast to Michael.  Hope, youth, and beauty versus despair, age, and the commonplace.  Of course, I could be full of shit.  Oh, yeah, and thank Father God and Sonny Jesus, the movie's not dubbed.  Hooray for subtitles!  Deal with it.


Acting:  Fuith as Michael does a great job as the Everyman who wears his heart on his sleeve (no, not literally).  Trebs as Harper is a puzzle.  I was going to say his performance was wooden, almost leaden.  Yet the more I think about it, I remember subtle nuances that now make me realize he was an angry, terrified kid who had to retreat inside himself to survive.  Everyone else did an acceptable job in their roles.
Story:  Nothing new here.  Not even a little bit.  As I've said before, though, this is not a bad thing.
Direction:  It's a tribute to the skills of director Marvin Kren that so short a film delivers the goods better than 90% of its 90-minute counterparts. 
Production Values:  As with the film's running time, less is more.  I found nothing to indicate this is a low-budget film (and it is film, not video tape). 
Gore/FX:  There are the prerequisite scenes with necks getting ripped out and blood pumping but nothing too intense.  Good zombie FX.  I think the only CGI might have been the long shot of the smoldering Berlin cityscape.  Either way, it looked fine.
Scares:  Oddly, not so much.  This is more psychological horror than anything.  Still, there may be a jump or two I'm forgetting.
The Ending:  I pegged the ending after about 15 minutes in.  There was really only one way it could end, and it did.  All I'll say is that it did not upset me in the least.  (Now that's saying something for me.)

The Verdict:  Should you see Rammbock - Berlin Undead?  Well, of course you should.  It's one of the best zombie flicks I've seen in a long while.  And in case you didn't notice, it's not made in the U.S.A.  When it comes to zombie horror, "American Made" is no longer a selling point. 

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment