Monday, July 11, 2011

Film Review: Rammbock: Berlin Undead (2010)


The English translation of the word "rammbock" is battering ram or a large hard tool used to beat in a door or wall. I think that's precisely the right term that can be used for this film...as it pretty much does that to the zombie genre. Not quite like how Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later did...but, more like in the way that I didn't expect this kind of quality from a German zombie film. Rammbock: Berlin Undead is quite good.

Now...let me backtrack a little.

It can be argued that Rammbock is not really a zombie flick. In fact, it is said during a radio broadcast in the film that the creatures running around biting the flesh off regular folks aren't really undead...they're just infected. Much in the same way that a dog gets rabies...only much faster. Here's the trickiest aspect about the film. I say trickiest...because, I feel that the explanation of the outbreak was both genius and dumb. During a scene where the survivors in the film are listening to a radio broadcast, it is stated that once bitten, the victim becomes infected with a certain virus that makes you go all fuckin' lunatic once your adrenaline triggers it. The trick here is to remain calm. If you can keep your body from getting all excited...you might have a chance at kicking the infection. Now...in a movie about a rabid mass of infected destroying all of Berlin, this premise does bring in a new spin to an old sub genre. There's a dozen or so ideas that already spring to mind. However, once you start thinking about details...all you gotta do is kick back and smoke alot of weed and just chill until the government handles the situation outside. Come to think of it...I wonder why Dr. Bruce Banner was never a pothead.


Anyway, getting back to Rammbock: Berlin Undead. Oh...that reminds me. If they're only infected and not really undead...then shouldn't it be called Rammbock: Berlin Infected? And also...what's with the fuckin' 59 minute running time?? I mean, seriously, this film was 60 minutes short of being something really special. Because while I filled most of the last couple paragraphs with complaints of the film, there is really so much to like about Rammbock.

The film opens with Michael (Michael Fuith) practicing his make up speech to his ex-girlfriend with a friend who gave him a lift to her apartment complex in Berlin. In fact it is his friend who tells our hero Michael to be calmer and utters the words, "Don't get all worked up." Words of wisdom when taking into account the rules of infection. It isn't long before Michael barricades himself with a young teenage kid named Harper as the Germany around them falls prey to an unknown epidemic that turns normal people into flesh-eating crazies.


Michael is a pussy-whipped character wrapped in a pathetic longing for his girlfriend Gabi (Anka Graczyk), who apparently deserted him...because of his whiny bitchiness. He almost grows on me...and probably would have had the running time been a bit longer. I personally found myself rooting for Harper the most...but, actually didn't really care if anyone lived or died...because, well...59 minutes. In fact most of the character development just falls short of being anything memorable...due to the scantness of the film. Those of you who enjoy the usual zombie fare will know what I'm talking about here. In a story about infected beings running around craving your flesh...it is crucial to develop the surviving characters and allow you to care about them. The short running time just doesn't allow you to do that.

I won't spoil the film for you...because, again, it's so short that it would be easy to accidentally reveal a plot twist or a character revelation. But, I will say that the film is worth your time. In fact the only real complaint that I have is the short running time. There's really no reason why this film was so short. It basically leaves you wanting much more. It had the great potential of being one of the greater genre films released this year. Instead, it's just good.

Oh...by the by....a grown man in a bear suit.


It's been playing in super limited release and should be making its way to DVD shelves soon. So, I recommend picking Rammbock up for a nice little horror fix. It's got some decent gore and the premise is fresh enough to invest 59 minutes of your life...which is more than I can say about the usual zombie fare that's been coming out lately...I'm looking at you, George A. Romero.


3 out of 5


Thanks for reading,

bryan.



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