“German Angst” – 2015 Fantasia Film Review

Comprising three short films all set in Berlin, “German Angst” provokes thought and revulsion in near equal measure. “Final Girl,” the first segment, was directed by Jörg Buttgereit (“Nekromantik”) in a return to narrative filmmaking after 22 years of documentary and live theatrical work.  While his segment is the least of the three, it serves as an apt introduction to what is in store.  A young girl, having been victimized by her father years earlier, speaks in voiceover about her guinea pig and the necessary amputation of one of its legs.  Handling garden shears and other sharp implements, we come to realize that she speaks not only of an actual pet, but also of her father whose penis she will sever.

The second, and arguably best of the three films, is “Make a Wish” by Michal Kosakowski.  A young, playful deaf couple, both of Polish descent, are out for a walk and decide to explore a large abandoned building.  The young man shows the woman a medallion, and tells her that it belonged to his grandmother and holds a peculiar magic.  As a child, his grandmother witnessed her entire family being murdered by the Nazi SS, but when the top Nazi took the medallion from her and rotated it, his identity was switched with the identity of one of her enraged Polish elders, causing the Nazi to suddenly turn his gun against his own troops.  Unfortunately, before the young man finishes his tale, the couple are interrupted by the arrival of a small group of racist skinhead punks.  The punks are clearly looking for trouble, and when they discover that the deaf couple are of Polish ancestry, they begin to beat and torture the pair.  Of course, the medallion is snatched and rotated, but what happens next is not quite what we might expect.  Ultimately, we learn that – even in the worst of situations – people always have and make their own choices.

The third segment, Andreas Marschall’s “Alraune,” is the most traditional, playing like a particularly racy episode of The Twilight Zone.  A favorite of many in the audience, “Alraune” is about a man who becomes infatuated with an attractive – and very game – young woman at a nightclub.  When she leaves, he secretly follows her back to a private club, where she all too soon disappears.  An older man approaches and invites the enchanted fellow to join their club, promising the very greatest of pleasures, yet also warning that he will need to be blindfolded and shacked, and that there can be no turning back.  Once a member, always a member.  “Okay, sure… what could happen,” he apparently thinks, and – to his delight – he soon finds himself bound to an operating table having the orgiastic experience of his life.  He imagines, of course, that he is being made love to by the beautiful young woman he met earlier, but – as one might guess – nothing is quite as it seems.

“German Angst” received its North American premiere at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival on July 19.  For further information go to fantasiafestival.com