• German Angst



    Released by: Artsploitation Films
    Released on: June 26h, 2018.
    Director: Jörg Buttgereit, Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschal
    Cast: Lola Gave, Axel Holst, Annika Strauss, Andreas Pape, Matthan Harris, Kristina Kostiv, Désirée Giorgetti, Rüdiger Kuhlbrodt
    Year: 2015
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    The Movie:

    A crowdfunded anthology film made in 2015, German Angst features three shorts, each directed by some of Germany’s more recognizable underground filmmakers. The stories don’t really have anything to do with one another in terms of plotting, but thematically they are linked by their dark and violent subject matter.

    The first story is Final Girl and it was written and directed by Jörg Buttgereit, best known for Nekromantik. This segment tells the story of a young girl (Loa Gave) who lives alone in a filthy apartment that she shares with her pet guinea pig. When the story starts, we think that she lives alone but shortly after we see her get out of bed we learn that she’s got a middle-aged man (Axel Holst) gagged and bound to a bed in the room next to hers. Her internal narration fills us in on who he is, and why she does what she does to him before the short comes to its close.

    Like almost all of Buttgereit’s work, Final Girl is as oddly artistic in its intent as it is deliberately gory in its execution. The shortest of the three segments, it’s nicely shot and considerably more polished in appearance than his earlier pictures, but the director’s tendency to go for shock value has lost little of its edge. Loa Gave is very good as the lead, playing her role with just the right amount of distance from the subject matter to work in the part. Axel Host has less to do, dramatically speaking, but he’s more than sufficient in his part. The ending is rather ambiguous but it works – if this doesn’t resonate the way his feature length efforts do it’s still an interesting work that his fan base should appreciate.

    The second short was directed and co-written by Michal Kosakowski who in 2013 gave us Zero Killed. Entitled Make A Wish, the story follows young deaf-mute couple Jacek (Matthan Harris) and Kasia (Annika Strauss) as they explore an abandoned factory. After he tells her a story about his family’s past and gives her a talisman given to him by his ancestors, the two of them are attached by a gang of neo-Nazi’s who take offense to their Polish heritage and begin to torture them. It gets weird from there.

    A dark and fairly disturbing story, Make A Wish is at least unique and interesting enough to be worth checking out. The flashback scene wherein we see the Nazi invasion of Poland (on an understandably smaller and more intimate scale than you might expect) is done surprisingly well and the acting here from the two leads is pretty strong. Some of the cast members that play the skinheads go a bit too over the top but this one works well enough, even if it is a bit longer than it needs to be. The film is well shot and it makes excellent use of a really intriguing location – at times you almost wish Kosakowski had spent more time exploring the old factory than with the characters that inhabit it.

    Last but not least is Alraune, written and directed by Andreas Marschall, the director responsible for 2004’s Tears Of Kali and 2011’s Masks. The story follows a man who is unhappy with his sex life at home. Wanting bigger and more frequent thrills, he winds up in an underground sex club where participants engage in all manner of carnal activity after indulging in a drug made from the roots of the Mandragora plant. As he falls deeper into this strange underworld he learns the hard way that not only are there repercussions for his actions, but there are some seriously unsettling side effects related to the drug that’s being used.

    By far the most effects-heavy and over the top entry in the anthology, Alraune takes things to a pretty extreme conclusion strong enough to satisfy most horror fans’ craving for the bizarre. It’s well paced and effectively shot and the practical effects work that highlights the last third of the film is pretty strong. Performances are also quite decent and all in all, this one works very well and proves to be the most memorable of the three stories.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Artsploitation Films brings German Angst to Blu-ray on a 25GB disc framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. As this material was shot digitally, there’s no print damage or grain problems to note (though in between each story there are quick little inserts that appear to mirror old film stock). Colors are well reproduced and skin tones look good. Some minor crush can be spotted in a few of the darker scenes and there’s some obvious banding throughout, but by and large the image quality here is quite good. Detail and depth are pretty strong and there’s good texture here as well.

    German language options are provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles provided in English only. There’s no lossless audio option provided, unfortunately, but even if these audio options don’t take full advantage of the format they sound fine. There’s some decent channel separation in the 5.1 track. Levels are well balanced, and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note.

    Extras start off with an eight-minute behind the scenes piece that basically gives us a quick look at the different shorts being made. It’s not super comprehensive but it is worth checking out. A bit more in-depth is the sixteen-minute Q&A with directors Michal Kosakowski, Andreas Marschall and actor Matthan Harris shot at the 2015 installment of the Fantastic Fest film festival. They discuss the making of their shorts and field some questions – it’s a good talk.

    Aside from that we get a seven-minute crowdfunding video that was made for the Kickstarter campaign that funded the movie, two teasers, two trailers, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    German Angst is a pretty solid anthology, mixing artistic intent with blatant shock value in interesting and effective ways. Each of the shorts is worth seeing and it’s nice to see these three filmmakers able to experiment a bit here. The presentation from Artsploitation Films looks pretty decent and there are some good extras here as well, even if the disc isn’t super packed and uses lossy audio.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!