Thursday, August 18, 2016

In short: Die Präsenz (2015)

Markus (Matthias Dietrich), an anthropology student, grabs his girlfriend Rebecca (Liv Lisa Fries), his best friend Lukas (Henning Nöhren) and of course a camera for a ten day vacation in Hohnau Castle. Well, at least he’s selling the whole affair as a vacation and romantic getaway to Rebecca. Lukas coming with them is a “surprise”, as is the actual reason for their stay in this particular place: the castle is supposed to be haunted and even has a choice assortment of mysterious deaths in its past. Markus thinks a bit of paranormal research there is exactly what he needs for his dissertation.

Of course, problems soon arise, for Rebecca isn’t happy with all these “surprises”. She also is rather afraid of the supernatural, so obviously, once the local ghoulies and ghosties start with a charming assortment of nightly banging noises, mouldering food, and so on, they do seem to concentrate on her a bit.
Things deteriorate quickly from there on out.

To nobody’s surprise, POV horror has made its way to my native Germany too (though the other two German sub-genre movies I’ve seen have been just too tedious to even mention). It’s still an obvious approach to take when there’s little money involved in a production, and I think it still rather fits into a world filled with creepy pasta and Youtubers shouting at jump scare horror games. And it certainly makes me more hopeful towards a German horror movie than the threat/promise of another pointless gore movie.

Despite a slightly different initial set-up (and a pleasant lack of people talking about demons), Die Präsenz is heavily indebted to the style of the Paranormal Activity movies when it comes to its shocks and its favourite camera positions; it does get going with the abnatural phenomena rather early, spending much less time on tedious characters being tedious at each other. That’s obviously a good thing, and even though the various scares and shocks are rather well-worn, director Daniele Grieco does time them competently, avoiding the tedium of the truly bad half of POV horror.

The actors are competent enough for what they have to do; the castle environs are creepy and not too common in the sub-genre. Everything seems done with competence and a degree of care, leading to a film that doesn’t add much new or memorable to genre formulas but which does while away eighty minutes well enough.

No comments: