German Angst, 2018.
Directed by Jorg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, and Andreas Marschall.
Starring Lola Gave, Axel Holst, Andreas Pape, Mathan Harris, Melton Welsh, and Anikka Strauss.
Three of German horrors most shocking directors come together to present a trio of horror tales dealing with love, sex and death in the darkest corners of Berlin.
I’ve said it many a time and dammit I’ll say it again, I love anthologies. However, after watching and reviewing the pitiful anthology ordeal that was A Taste of Phobia last week (read my review here) I was dreading taking a look at the subject of today’s review, the German anthology horror entitled German Angst, a film that I went into with low expectations but came out of feeling very surprised.
One problem that some anthology films suffer from is an attempt to cram in as many different stories as possible, this is the approach taken by A Touch of Phobia and other anthology films like the better known ABCs of Death films, it’s an ambitious way of tackling the anthology format for sure but it often leaves many of the segments feeling rushed, lackluster and not particularly memorable.
German Angst takes the right approach to the anthology format and sticks to just telling 3 short stories, with the longer runtime given to each segment allowing for the viewer to get to know the characters, their motivations and generally allowing for the telling of a full and complete story that doesn’t feel rushed or compressed.
Our first segment entitled “Final Girl” which tells the story of a young girl holed up in an apartment building as she performs some amateur surgery on a hapless victim. This segment is the shortest and most low key of the three segments with it’s near total lack of dialogue except for a rather monotone voiceover that talks about guinea pigs and castration, a bit like you’re listening to a German veterinary lecture.
This segment while having its fair amount of atmosphere and one deeply uncomfortable scene that’s bound to make all men cross their legs in terror, is rather thin on the ground with regards to the story, with much of it seemingly left up to viewer’s interpretation.
I think the segment is a literal take on the “human guinea pig” idea with the young girl (who is unnamed) regularly talking about how vets treat guinea pigs before conducting her own attempts at surgery on her captive victim. While the story is rather short on details, the execution is sold with it being a rather nice gruesome tale to get the film started off strong, with it having some decent gore effects to boot.
The second segment is entitled “Make a Wish” which tales the story of a deaf couple being terrorised by a group of bigoted thugs in an abandoned building. This is easily the strongest segment with it having solid performances, especially from the thugs led by Andreas Pape who excel at creating some truly despicable villains who you long to see destroyed.
The plot has a tad more meat to it than the last segment, but it still manages to keep it rather simple and to the point, with it, in my interpretation, serving as a comment on the collective guilt of the German people for the atrocities committed during the Nazi era, with the thugs racism against their Polish victims, the flashbacks to Nazi atrocities and the rather dark ending only furthering my belief that this is the case. It’s a strong segment and I honestly wouldn’t have minded if it went on a tad longer, even though some of the gore effects are a tad ropey and the segments use of Nazi atrocities leaves me somewhat divided as to its necessity.
The final segment is entitled “Alarune” and tells the story of a Berlin photographer who, pursuing an attractive woman, finds himself the newest member of a secretive and sinister sex club.
This is easily the weakest segment of the film with it running just a tad too long and at nearly an hour in length, it hogs much of the film’s runtime. The story starts off strong with its tale of obsession and sex and it feels at times like a horror-themed remake of that part in Eyes Wide Shut where Tom Cruise stumbles into the secret society with the masks. However, it soon falls into the usual “sex club is really a death/demon/devil club” shenanigans that I feel comes just a tad too late into the story to make an impact.
The acting is again rather solid, with Milton Welsh managing to create an engaging lead throughout, even though I’m rather confused why he only speaks English while others speak German around him. The gore effects in this one are easily the most disturbing, with the segment featuring scenes self-harm and genital mutilation that are tough to stomach and the film ends with a deeply uncomfortable looking tentacle up the rear. Overall this segment is a solid conclusion but it really should have been cut down a tad to make it a bit more interesting.
With each segment managing to tell, for the most part, engaging and/or interesting stories, with fine acting throughout and with gruesome and sometimes disturbing gore effects, German Angst, while not the greatest anthology horror in the world, is still a solid example of the right approach to take when crafting an anthology film. Check this one out if you’re curious.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★