Thursday, 17 December 2015

nekromantik 2

nekromantik 2 is jorg buttgereit’s more measured and somehow classier sequel to his cult hit nekromantik, if you can describe a film that uses a rotting penis on a plate as a plot device as classy.

the film opens with a ted bundy quote and then replays the final moments of the first film between the titles. i'm still not going to explain what happens to bob, the main character, at the end of the first film, you really need to see that for yourself. this time the story focuses on a young woman called monika (played by monika m.) who digs up bob’s body for sex, but things don’t really work out the way she hopes. infatuated with bob, she keeps his corpse around while she tries to figure out what’s missing. around the same time she meets a young man, mark, who dubs porn films for a living. they start a relationship, but mark soon begins to suspect that monika may be hiding something.

it’s really hard to describe the plot of nekromantik 2, because it could be argued that there almost isn’t one. certainly for the first half of the film i  t feels like this is more a series of moments than a story, but as the film progresses it becomes apparent that this is what buttgereit’s style has evolved into. nekromantik felt like being constantly slapped in the face, usually with something sticky and rotten. it was loud, brash and shocking, both in what was on screen and the way those images were presented. of course, it had its slow-moving, naturalistic moments too, there was a hint of how buttgereit would develop, but the style of film matched the shocking nature of the subject matter.

nekromantik 2 almost feels like it was made by another director. there these incredible camera moves, where the camera travels the length of a table in a smooth arc, for example, and there are also moments of extreme naturalism, where we watch characters go about their business in minute detail rather than cutting for pace. this naturalism carries over into the more disturbing scenes, and as a result dismembering a human corpse begins to feel like carving up a chicken or something equally mundane. it seems buttgereit wants us to feel like these people and this world are the most normal they can be, and by extension so is what they are doing. it’s slow-moving at first, but the film does have a rhythm to it that kind of works, so much so that when the pace does pick up at the end the speed of what is happening is almost as shocking as what we are watching. there is also very little dialogue in the film, and buttgereit does a great job of showing the development of a complex romance without words.

like the first film, there is a theme running throughout the piece of desensitisation. mark mentions at one point the ‘monotony of pornography’ because his day job has completely desensitised him to it. there is also a sequence in a cinema like the one in the first film, but while that film seemed more concerned with showing how desensitised the audience were to gore and horror, this time the characters are watching a kind of parody of an art film. the scene almost plays in exactly the same way as the scene in nekromantik, except mark and monika are clearly enjoying themselves. like bob in the first film, monika is not desensitised; she is open to everything and anything, it's just that the thing she really needs is just out of reach. there are times when it feels like monika genuinely likes mark, and that mark may even understand her secret, but then there are times when it feels like mark never stood a chance. their relationship has a reality and a heart to it that really makes it work.

while i missed the frenetic, punk energy of the first film, nekromantik 2 is still an engaging and fascinating work. despite the slow-pace of the film, there is a complexity to it that will hold your interest as well as moments of real beauty. this is my favourite type of horror film, because like dans ma peau or eraserhead it explores the horror of being human; the horror of living. monika is not presented as being particularly depraved, she’s simply one of us and how many of us have had thoughts and perhaps urges that we would rather the rest of the world didn’t know about? there is a bit of monika in all of us, and we should be thankful to buttgereit for showing us that.

it's also worth pointing out that the blu-ray is full of fantastic extras, including some really insightful interviews with buttgereit and his team in which they all come across as warm, lovely creative people. in case you hadn’t gathered, i really liked this film so if you haven’t seen it you should probably check it out.

nekromantik 2 is available now from arrow video on blu-ray and dvd in a 3-disc set that includes the cd soundtrack

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