Cast: Luana Velis, Jan Bluthardt, Julia Riedller, Nadja Stubiger
Director: Tilman Singer
Just when I start to give foreign language movies a chance, they turn around and pull some dramatic and artsy nonsense on me like this. This is some experimental German horror that is absolutely not something I am used to watching on a daily basis. The horror genre is definitely known for pushing the envelope and trying new things, but that doesn’t always mean it should debut at a major film festival like Berlin. An interesting concept that doesn’t quite reach the level of potential it was hoping for, Luz shows Singer has a mind for the genre but just needs help getting all of his ideas sorted out.
The film follows Luz Carrara (Velis), a Spanish taxi driver who is brought in for questioning after getting into an accident in Germany. When she doesn’t give them the answers they are looking for, the police bring in a hypnotist to put her into a trance that will eventually reveal the truth. Little do they know that by doing this, they will fall victim to the demon that lives inside Luz and it’s up to everyone at the station and eventually put the demon to rest. At a very surface level, this sounds like a pretty cool idea and something that can be adapted into something pretty special when used by the proper director and actors. Unfortunately, this is Singer’s directorial debut and there’s still some issues that need to worked out. This very much has a student film vibe to it and when you look a little deeper into Singer’s background that makes sense. This movie was a film school thesis from Singer depicting an homage to 1980s horror movies. While it works in that realm, I don’t think it’s good enough to warrant any form of major release. Singer can use a lot more time reforming his work and maybe one day he’ll end up with the movie he’s looking to make. The other side of this movie is the use of multiple languages to convey the points and translate what is going on in Luz’s head. While it works in the context of a German film, adding another foreign language makes it even tougher experience as an English speaker. She starts in Spanish, has her words translated to German, and then we have English subtitles. I don’t particularly like needing a linguistics degree to watch a horror movie, but I can’t exactly blame the movie for my lack of tongues. For what it’s worth, Luz does a solid job of capturing the feel of a 1980s horror and it’s only 70 minutes so if it’s not for you then you didn’t exactly waste a ton of time with this movie. To a degree, the movie does have scenes that feel as though they are homage to The Exorcist, but quite frankly they aren’t enough to make this an incredible debut for Singer. I don’t exactly know what German audiences are looking for in their horror movies, but if they want something abstract and experimental then Luz may be the movie for them.
Overall, nobody’s first time directing will be perfect and especially for someone so young and inexperienced, but ultimately Luz doesn’t give us anything more than a potentially interesting premise. At 70 minutes there’s honestly not enough time to properly develop these characters and the movie’s supernatural elements. Not too many student movies get promoted to this level of publicity, so there has to be a certain level of credit given to Singer and company, but if it wanted to stand out as a truly great movie Luz fails on that level.
Overall Score: 6.5/10