Monday, May 2, 2011

AMC, BloodyDisgusting & The Collective inaugurate late-night summer fright flicks: Kren & Hessler's zombie tale RAMMBOCK

If the new horror-film series that debuts this Wednesday (at AMC theaters in around 25 cities cross-country) proves as good in toto as its first film RAMMBOCK, then we genre freaks are in for multiple treats. A presen-tation of AMC, together with the well-known horror website Bloody and The Collective (which, after a half-hour web search, I still could not find), the series hopes to offer us "the best horror and thriller titles from the festival and international markets." Ladies and gentlemen: With this new and notable member of the ever-present-but-rarely-interesting zombie franchise, it is off to an awfully good start.

Filmmakers Benjamin Hessler (writer: shown at left) and Marvin Kren (director: shown below, right) initially seem to have repeated what a number of movies from a number of different countries have already given us: zombies taking over buildings, com-munities, and perhaps whole countries. We've see this from England (28 Days Later), France (La Horde), Spain [REC] and of course the good 'ol USA (too numerous to mention,
but a shout-out is directed to George Romero). Even little Norway last year offered up Dead Snow, and I hear Israel has just given us something of the sort, and now comes Germany's turn. If, initially, our film-making duo seems to be following the zombie playbook in its all too tried-and-true fashion, hold on. Almost immediately, little yet welcome differences emerge. All the characters here avoid being mere cliché and would, in fact, be of interest in any non-zombie movie.

Starting with the film's lovesick co-hero (a sad and dear performance from Michael Fuith, above left) who by his own bumbling and dumb luck ends up trapped in one of the building's apartments with a young worker (Theo Trebs, above, right, of The White Ribbon) whose boss has suddenly zombie-fied and is now, along with a number of others (see below), on the rampage.

These two make an unusual and charming pair, and despite having little in common, they seem to bring out the best in each other, right through to the fraught, suspenseful, sad and possible hopeful finale. You will see and feel things in and from this little movie that I believe no other zombie film has managed. Deep, zombie love, perhaps, and a climax that approaches the religious (and I am not talking about the kind of religion that wards off a vampire with a crucifix).

Yes, there is some quasi-gore here but compared to many others movies in the genre, it's mild. I doubt aficionados will mind, for blood and guts have been replaced with intelligence and surprise, and a sense, even, of adventure that's rare to the genre. Instead of constant gnawing and nibbling, the filmmakers offer us spatial wonder: confinement in very small areas, escape into realms that seem new and wondrous (there's an attic scene that's quite something, followed by a rooftop moment that suddenly allows us and our hero to rest -- and breathe).

Every time, in fact, that the movie reminds you of another such film, almost immediately it also seems better than that film. Economical to the max (it runs but 64 minutes, including credits), Rammbock makes the most of its time -- offering a virus with a twist of two of it own, dual love stories that actually work (as much for their brevity as for their necessity and/or feelings) and finally betrayal/sacrifice.

It might seem somewhat appalling that theaters will rake in today's ticket prices for a movie that lasts little more than one hour. Yet minute for minute, the entertainment value here is very high -- much more so than in many longer, big-budget movies -- so I doubt there will be complaints from intelligent lovers of the horror genre. Each movie in this series -- click here to see the three so far scheduled -- plays late night, once or twice weekly, with each theater evidently playing it at its own preferred times. So be sure to check the schedule carefully at your theater of choice so as not to be disappointed.

One more thing: Remember that if you've bought a ticket for the Friday midnight show, this does not mean that you're seeing it late on Friday night. Get there late on Thursday night.) Once the movie is finished with its theatrical play, I am told that it is also slated for VOD, so there should be many opportunities to see the terrific little Rammbock in the weeks, maybe months, to come.

No comments: