Monday, September 21, 2015

TIFF 2015 review – Der Nachtmahr

Der Nachtmahr
Directed by AKIZ

Review by Allan Tong

Sixteen-year-old German Tina (Carolyn Genzkow) attends a wild drug-fuelled pool party one night with her friends, imagines her own death and slowly descends into madness. Or does she?

The premise of Der Nachtmahr is a riff off Polanki's 1965 psychological thriller Repulsion which director AKIZ freely acknowledges as an influence. The key difference between that film and this is that Tina sees an E.T.-like creature that nobody else does, so her parents and friends believe she's nuts.

The creature doesn't work and its symbolism isn't convincing or entirely clear, for that matter. Der Nachtmahr never completely becomes a psychological examination of a trouble teenage girl, or an outright horror film. It straddles both and ends up muddled.

At least the film's photography and editing is confident and assured, with touches of Kubrick (The Shining). Lead Genzkow is good, but script and story don't let her drill down and show us know why she's experience this kind of madness. Why her? Why now? Kim Gordon, a friend and admirer of Akiz, cameos as a sympathetic English lit teacher discussing Blake, which nicely weaves into the story.

AKIZ told Chino Kino that someone who had seen the film before TIFF thought the creature represented an abortion Tina had had. That's not in the film, but it's an intriguing idea that would have given Der Nachtmahr more direction.

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