Fantastic Fest 2010: Rammbock
Hoping to rekindle the romance with his ex-girlfriend, Michi makes a surprise visit to her apartment in the city. Bad timing as a zombie outbreak hits Berlin. Michi finds himself confined to her apartment with Harper, a young lad who was helping his boss do some repairs in her apartment as the outbreak happened. They soon discover that there are other survivors with the apartment complex and they communicate with each other across the courtyard. Some of them keep to themselves. Some of them call to each other across the courtyard. Some of them need help. All the while Michi's ex-girlfriend is nowhere to be found and Michi is starting to worry. Is Michi willing to leave the apartment and help these strangers?
I say this off the top. There is a scene in Rammbock where our sad sack hero Michi puts on a bear costume that he finds in his ex-girlfriend's flat. There are Polaroids of her striking sexy poses in the costume. I don't know if Marvin Kren is aware of Furries and what the movement is about but there may be an unsolicited snicker from a western audience who know about it. Or do they have Furries in Germany? I only know of them because of that CSI episode. Honest. But despite Kren's feelings about having a visual representation of warmth and comfort apparently I am a twisted perv who only thought of Furries instead. I apologize to Marvin. That being said let's move on.
As smaller European countries get into certain genres there is usually a tendency to go at it slow. Test the waters and see what your home grown audience can tolerate and accept. If you go into it too heavy you run the risk of being too extreme for cinemas in your own country. We're okay over here in North America. We're sadistic as hell and the more blood the more we like it. But Kren's film goes beyond chasing and eating and is about the relationships that are important to us. And thankfully it is not heavy handed about this theme either. I'll admit that I had trouble with Michi. As I said he is a bit of a sad sack so it is at times difficult to accept him as the hero of film. You want to yell out, "Suck it up. Man up". But as the film plays out Kren's film isn't about heroes and saving the day. It is about saving the ones we love and to what end will you be neighborly and to what end you will be selfish. That is where the heart of the film is, you know, before a zombie rips it of your chest and starts feasting on it.
Not an aficionado of the genre but I've always been looking for it to offer something new. I use to convince myself that a rehash of old themes and ideas simply won't do with the sheer number of films being turned out from everywhere and anywhere. What do you do to stand out? And this is a disservice of course to Kren and Benjamin Hessler's script because it doesn't recognize the achievement that it is to simply make a zombie film through the German film industry. And it is hard to find fault with Kren's film though because how often do we get to see a zombie film from Germany? So what does Kren bring to the table? In regards to genre conventions and themes he chooses fast zombies, everything is transmitted via the bite, as it should be, he does get creative when it comes to camera flashes and without giving it away I don't think I've seen it anywhere else. So kudos to what I think is an original idea in an otherwise acceptable zombie film.
It doesn't break any new ground but it certainly doesn't bury the genre. It is a good place to start and if the genre industry ever gets going in Germany then now would be a good time to test those bloody waters.