29 June 2011

Movies: Rammbock: Berlin Undead

Rammbock: Berlin Undead (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1583356/

A German-made Horror/Thriller. German language, subtitled.

Michael's girlfriend moved to Berlin, soon after she broke up with him. He travels from Vienna to Berlin to return her keys to her and, he hopes, plead her back into his life, or at least get an explanation as to why they broke up.  Right after he arrives at her apartment block he hears screams in the distance. When he gets to her apartment he finds a plumber and his apprentice but no girlfriend.  Then the plumber falls to the ground twitching, starts foaming at the mouth, then attacks Michael and the apprentice. They successfully lock him out of the apartment, take a look out the window into the apartment courtyard and see more seemingly rabid folks attacking screaming victims.  TV news reports a state of emergency, there is some sort of virus is spreading by body fluid contact and recommends everyone stay inside, then goes off the air. A recorded message loop on the radio continues the warnings.  Michael keeps hoping his ex-girlfriend is safe and wants to find her. At the same time he and a few other uninfected apartment block residents realize they need to band together and try to survive, perhaps escape.

The story has good pacing, no dragging of the feet. The film is only an hour long, but that's fine. They told the story they had to tell in probably the best amount of time.  They didn't pad it to feature-length; had they done so it probably would have started dragging. I'd rather a good story be told in an hour than have a story turned mediocre with extra worthless crap tacked on just to stretch it out.

There isn't a whole lot of character development, just a bunch of surviving folks that have come to terms with their situation and their attempts to deal with things, perhaps escape from the area.  The actors seem fine in their roles, but due to my not being able to understand German I wouldn't be able to tell if the line delivery was off. Seemed natural enough to me.
Technically seemed filmed and edited together well. There is some handheld camera work in the more intense scenes, putting us viewers in the room and getting jostled about by the infected as they chase down their prey.

Now - this is billed as a zombie film, even the film makers use the 'zombie' term to refer to their infected folks. However this technically an infection outbreak film. This is about a virus that spreads from infected to infected, no indications at all that dead are reanimated. There's no indication any of the infected in this film die from a bite or are dead. The symptoms are slightly different, too, with the infected foaming at the mouth, easily lose interest, attracted to loud sounds and apparently very bright-light-sensitive.  One of the broadcasts indicate that a bit person tends to 'turn' quicker if they get excited, as in adrenaline release hastens the onset of symptoms. The constant use of tranquilizers can delay onset indefinitely. The infected move as fast as people, whereas true zombies tend to move at varying speeds depending on the extent of the decomposition affecting their musculature. Plus these infected tend to just bite their source of irritation, un-infected folks, as opposed to devouring them.  However, if any devouring occurred, it must've been off-camera and I missed it.

One thing I've never quite understood in infectious outbreak films, and even in zombie films to a lesser degree, is why the infected never attack each other.  Zombies can sort of be explained in that the living probably smell like fresh food vs. spoiled decaying flesh, though recently turned zombies probably smell near as fresh as the living. But why, in an outbreak film, don't they attack each other too? Especially in this film when the infected act almost like they are rabid or something. They react to loud noises, seeking out the source, though they don't react to noise made by other infected.  They beeline for the uninfected and attack, ignoring any infected in the vicinity.

I suppose this film would be one that could be considered in the same breath as 28 Days Later. However Rammbock's visible world isn't near as expansive as that of 28DL.  Most of Rammbock takes place inside the apartment block,  28DL's takes place in London and beyond. 

This film's appeal is in its small world approach. It sticks with the protagonist Michael through the whole film from start to finish - we see the outbreak occur as he sees it, with the same line of sight limitations he experiences.  There's no explanation as to the source of the infection. But from Michael's point of view knowing the whys and hows isn't important, survival is.

It is a good entertaining foreign outbreak film. Much less gory than most zombie/outbreak films so it'll go better on the stomachs of the easily queasy. Probably worth watching you enjoyed 28 Days Later or other outbreak or zombie-genre films, like to see more, and don't have issues with reading subtitled foreign films.  It isn't especially groundbreaking or list-topping, but it is a good entertaining film in its own right.  Just don't expect Romero-esque zombies, because they just ain't.

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