Director – Marvin Kren
Cast – Michael Fuith, Sebastian Achilles, Carsten Behrendt, Melanie Berke, Emily Cox, Anna Graczyk, Harald Geil
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I have heard great things about this German horror film ever since its debut last year(2010) and its recent US theatrical release thanks to Bloody-Disgusting(who I write for on occasion), so I went into this expecting a positive experience and that is exactly what I was given. Coming in at a mere 60 minutes, Rammbock: Berlin Undead has its flaws that come relative to its runtime, but the story is good, the execution is great, and we get some enjoyable infected action in this simple and pretty enjoyable German effort that is NOT a zombie film despite its title.
Still upset and disheartened over the breakup with his now ex-girlfriend Gabi, Michael makes a surprise visit to Berlin in order to give her back her keys in a feeble attempt at patching things up and regaining her love. Unfortunately for Michael, his trip to Berlin coincides with a deadly virus outbreak that turns the infected into homicidal maniacs, forcing him to hole up in Gabi’s empty apartment and team with her neighbors to survive the infected onslaught, a heavy price to pay for love.
This is the first German film that I have come across with that delves into the “infected” sub-genre, and I was pleased to see that these German filmmakers did things right aside from the needless usage of the word “undead” in its title. I loved the idea of a man traveling out of his way to complete a simple task (he could have just mailed the keys) in what was seemingly a desperate attempt to regain the love that he lost, only to find that his decision may cost him his life. The story is simple, but many great ideas are thrown into the mix, which include Gabi not being in the apartment and Michael waiting out the infected in hopes that she will return. Naturally, as the story progresses he joins up with a few of her neighbors in a collective attempt to secure themselves in the apartment complex and fight off the infected, but as we all know: you just can’t keep the infected out. Simply put, they are like roaches, except they can REALLY mess up your day. The character usage of Michael was great, and for such a short film we get some great development on him that brings us into the sad world that he lives in, and in most cases should achieve remorse from the viewer, especially those who can put themselves in his shoes. Unsurprisingly, Gabi eventually makes her way into the story, and while her reunion with Michael is sweet at first, he soon learns that he really should not have come to see her, and not because of the infected. I loved that segment given it only raised the conflict and the viewer’s remorse over his character, and it completely changed his outlook on the grave situation he has found himself in. Without a need to watch for her and bring her back safely with him, he can focus on aiding the others around him who are in trouble, coming off as another unselfish underdog of a hero that most of us love to see. As expected, the films three acts are fairly short, and although you would assume that a film with a 60 minute runtime would move pretty fast, this one does not. It is not necessarily a slow film, but it takes as much time as it can developing the story and characters, and I applaud writer Benjamin Hessler for making the attempt at giving us the most story possible. Sure there are some faults that come into play, mainly how darn short the third act is, but the subject matter, creative ideas, and positive climax left me pleased in the end, and that is what matters.
Director Marvin Kren did a great job in this feature debut effort of his, and much like writer Benjamin Hessler, he made the most out of what little time they had to work with. The setting is great, and nearly the entire film takes place in the gloomy apartment complex, which much to my enjoyment we are given a nowhere-to-run scenario that forces our characters to take action. Kren’s execution of the horror is great, and I was glad to see that he portrayed the infected to full potential. They run, they tear at walls, the break through walls, and they savagely attack anyone who comes across them, and all with good amounts of live-action gore, something that we sadly do not get in all infected films, and yes I am talking to you, REC 2! Kren’s execution of our characters is also great, with none of them delivering unfavorable performances and Michael coming off exactly how he was meant to be portrayed, a soft and somber anti-hero who unselfishly realizes his mistake and combats it by saving the lives of others, which I applaud actor Michael Fuith for expertly portraying.
Overall, Rammbock: Berlin Undead is a great German infected film that gives us all of the right elements expected of the infected sub-genre, and then some. The story is great and despite a short runtime manages to give us more than enough needed to an engaging experience, and Kren’s direction sells every element to full potential and results in a solid horror film that should not have been great given its novice director, writer, and short runtime, but once again proves that good filmmakers can make anything happen.