Wednesday, January 27, 2016

In short: Rammbock (2010)

Viennese Michael (Michael Fruith) is only coming to Berlin to give his ex-girlfriend Gabi (Anka Graczyk) back her apartment key, in the not so silent hope they just might get back together again if they only talk things out. Gabi isn’t home, though, and one of the two workmen doing something or other in her flat gets a bad case of the zombies - fast, shouty, “infected” type.

So, very quickly our mild-mannered and generally unprepared for survival and violence hero finds himself barricaded in Gabi’s apartment together with the other, younger, non-zombified workman (Theo Trebs) while outside what just might be the end of the world as he knows it starts.

Given how little the Powers that Be in Germany’s film-funding world love genre apart from po-faced as only German movies can be po-faced cop stuff and idiotic comedy, I can only assume director Marvin Kren convinced one of our state-owned TV channels, the ZDF, to finance a short-ish zombie feature for its venerable series “Das kleine Fernsehspiel” (which translates roughly to “The Small TV Play”) via white magic. I’m glad he did, too, for the film is a little treasure in the unceasing horde of contemporary zombie film.

It approaches things in a mostly realist way – apart from the usual bleached-out colour scheme of course – with a lead who really isn’t terribly well equipped – physically or psychologically – for the catastrophe he finds himself in and a zombie apocalypse that feels believable and logical in a manner those films in a more survivalist fantasy mode never do to me. Once Michael – and the more fit for survival Harper – start to act, things do of course go terribly wrong, but they do so in a manner well fitting to a situation nobody could truly be prepared for. Even at that point, the film still keeps things admirably down to earth, and even when the characters get their McGyver on, they do so in a way and manner that feels like real improvisation more than like the filmmakers aiming for something cool.

Rammbock’s is an effectively quiet approach to the zombie apocalypse that doesn’t include – or need – much gore, that uses suspense and the sad humanity of its characters more than outward action, and that feels, in lack of a better word “European” not just because its characters don’t have easy access to guns. As always, using the local well while telling a not terribly original story does a film a world of good, and turns it into something much more worthwhile than just another zombie movie.

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