razzennest | johannes grenzfurthner | sophie kathleen kozeluh | michael smulik | anne weiner | faux documentary | comedy | nightmares film festival | better horror | austria | roland gratzer | jim libby | bob rose | joe dante | possessed | possession
Director: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Writer: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Starring: Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh, Michael Smulik and Anne Weiner
This is a wild movie to be honest. I got to see this for its World premiere at Nightmares Film Festival. Seeing the title caught my attention and even more so that the writer/director, Johannes Grenzfurthner, was in attendance dressed as a cardinal of the Catholic church. I came in blind though which was great. There isn’t much that I could say to brace you for what this movie does.
Synopsis: South African enfant terrible filmmaker and artiste-cineaste Manus Oosthuizen (Michael Smulik) meets with Rotten Tomatoes-approved indie film critic Babette Cruickshank (Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh) in an Echo Park sound studio. With key members of Manus’ crew joining, they record an audio commentary track for his new elegiac feature documentary ‘Razzennest’. But the session goes down a different path.
There’s not much more than that I want to include from the synopsis. We never see any of these characters. We are watching the documentary that Manus’ crew created. This includes different shots of nature, statues and other icons of religion as well as parts of this small Austrian village. Manus is chatting with Babette and he’s extremely pretentious. Also joining them are Ellen Zampaglione (Anne Weiner), Hetti Friesenbichler (Roland Gratzer) and Pat Kirkpatrick (Jim Libby). I also think that Bob (Bob Rose) is there too.
Manus points out that this documentary is trying to convey the ignored history of the 30 Years War. This is the real idea that Grenzfurthner had when making this so he put part of himself into Manus. Something happens while they’re recording this commentary that might lead to possession and murder.
That is where I’ll leave fleshing out just a bit more of the synopsis and introducing the characters. This is a hard movie to talk about since all we are seeing is the documentary. I love what they did here though. We are hearing the voices overlain like you would with a commentary. The images on the screen do sync up at times which I thought was clever. The horror comes from hearing these people trying to find a way to get out of this recording studio before it is too late. I was quite confused at first, but as I settled in, this is an interesting concept.
If you couldn’t tell, I’m impressed with this idea and I’ll give credit to the filmmaking. The documentary itself is good. Grenzfurthner had to go out along with his cinematographer and film hours upon hours of footage to make this faux documentary. Then to convey the characters only through the audio commentary track is genius. This makes it feel in line with another movie I saw at Nightmares Film Festival, Antrum, but this is done in a more comedic way. I’m giving credit to both the images and sound design for this.
I also want to briefly say that it is hard to develop characters when we can’t see them. This was done on the radio previously, but with the inclusion of sound with motion pictures, it gives actors more to work with. I don’t know if this fully works as the voices didn’t sound too much different for me. Things even take a turn as the horror builds. I will still give Kozeluh, Smulik, Weiner, Gratzer, Libby and Rose all credit. It is also funny that Joe Dante did the narration here. I can’t give full credit to the acting, but none of it was bad.
The last bit that I wanted to discuss is the comedy here. I don’t want you to come in thinking that this is a true comedy. This is more tongue in cheek, poking fun at cinema and ‘arthouse’ projects. It also comes from sarcasm. Manus is a jerk who Babette tries to tip-toe around as he jumps down her throat at different times. This made me laugh at just how pretentious he can be along with the movie that he made. It reminds me on a lesser scale of people I interact with on social media.
In conclusion, this is a bit shorter of a review, but I don’t want you to take this as a slight. We have a creative way of building tension and horror here. Showing us a ‘documentary’ with the story of what is happening is done through an audio commentary is clever. I don’t know if this fleshes out the characters well enough and can be difficult to follow. This is just an oddity that I would recommend for what it is.
My Rating: 7 out of 10