Directed by Werner Herzog
This is going to be a bit of departure from our usual affair here on the scroll.
I watched this movie without the intent of reviewing it. After watching this film, I feel it presents a horror that is all it's own.
Werner Herzog describes this movie himself as "a horror film without the blood, chainsaws and gore, but with a strange, anonymous fear creeping up in you." I feel that this is definitely an apt description. Now here is what is important about this film. This is a collaboration between David Lynch and Werner Herzog. It just so happens that in my world, this is the kind of duo that I could only dream of. What I watched in this films 90 minute run time was something I've felt that i've seen quite a few times and at the same time never before.
Whats the Plot?
Pretty straightforward, two homicide detectives get a call to check out a murder scene. They are told within about 2 minutes who did it and where he is. It seems a son has stabbed his mother with a sword. What follows for the rest of the film is the unraveling of the crime and why it was committed.
So why did I like this film so much? And how does this fit in with horror?
I'm going to try and not go off on a tangent here, but there is something under the hood of this film that I don't even think a lot of critics saw. I'm going to do this list form:
#1 - Michael Shannon. I've honestly never seen a film with this guy in it that I am aware of, but now that i've seen this, i'm going to be seeking some of his films out. The character of Brad as portrayed by Michael goes through a descent into madness that is absolutely terrifying. When he is talking to characters you see his eyes almost pop out of his head. When he is listening, you can see that he is absorbing every word that the other characters are saying and is contemplating how to act on it. His craziness is absolutely chilling and the nature in which he runs his mother through(which you don't see) is mind boggling. It's an outstanding performance and I honestly think it was award worthy.
#2 - The David Lynch and Werner Herzog connection. I did some research and it says that David Lynch didn't really have an influence over what Werner did. I absolutely don't think this could be the case unless David presented Werner with some special kool-aid and Werner took a huge sip. This almost seems like David made the film and left Werner with it to de-construct and help us make some sense of it. I've seen people saying it still makes no sense, and there are parts with little connection to the film - such as the scene in China that was filmed guerrilla style with no permit while Michael Shannon wanders through a crowded market.
Other scenes though make sense in a greater context. Luckily youtube is able to provide you with a shining example:
Now, if you haven't seen this movie - you wouldn't be blamed for watching that and saying what the fuck? In the greater scheme of things though I think this is a scene with a lot of meaning. I mostly want to highlight the end bit, where they stare in to the camera. The music selection, the midget in the background, the looking off camera for a moment. Some would say this is weird for the sake of weird, I say it's majestic and terrifying. I also say this is pure David Lynch.
#3 The supporting cast:
Willem Dafoe - Good as always, playing a surprisingly removed homicide detective who doesn't seem to see the absurdity in any of this
Chloe Sevigny - Distant, but it works. She was watching the descent into madness and could not stop it
Udo Kier - Patient, has a scene with an ostrich which is very funny
Brad Dourif - I'll just leave you with the clip below
It's definitely the usual bunch, but they all turn in good performances. The use of Grace Zabriskie is where I see another Lynch influence.
# 4 - The way the movie is constructed - I liked knowing what happened really quickly into the movie. Looking into the why for the entire movie was very interesting and good character study. I don't even really like "Cop" or "Murder" movies but flipping the genre on it's head was a good choice and the movie really benefits from it.
Who would like this movie
Who wouldn't like this movie?
- Probably everyone else
I was really struggling with how this movie could have such mixed reviews. 6's and 5's are the order of the day when it comes to this film. Looking back, It kind of goes along with how Werner Herzog has always been. If you get it, you get it - if you don't, you don't. He quite frankly doesn't care. I can at least say that the last time I was moved by a film like I was this one, was Fitzcarraldo, another Herzog masterwork.
I could honestly make this review pages and pages long by dissecting certain scenes that I thought were amazing.
The main thing I want to leave anyone reading this with is that this film was more like an experience than a film. It held my attention and wouldn't let it go. It hasn't even left my head since watching it. If you're a fan and you haven't watch this yet, you must.
If you aren't, maybe it's worth a shot too - it might open you up to a whole new realm of film
6/5 (Yep, I wen't there.)