Every now and again, a film comes along that gives you the shivers and freaks the fuck out of you… in a good way. ‘Der Nachtmahr’, the directorial debut from multi-disciplinary artist AKIZ is just that.
Starring Carolyn Genzkow, who is outstanding as the 16 year old Tina, this is a film about teenage anxieties, drug-taking, paranoia, mental health and much more.
While attending a party with her friends, Tina passes out, which initially she attributes to the drugs she consumed, yet from that moment on, her life changes as a mysterious creature begins to stalk her waking and sleeping hours. The symbiotic relationship she develops with this being increasingly places a strain on her school work, love life, and her relationships with both her friends and her parents.
Flashbacks, nightmares, dreams and hallucinations are all mixed up to excellent effect in this psychological horror, which anyone who has had a bad trip will probably relate to. I initially watched this film alone, coming down from the festivities of May 1st, and I don’t recommend you do something similar, it is very, very scary in a way that is quite rare these days.
Horror films are often reluctant to let us see the monster which is supposed to haunt us too early in the plot, but the creature in Der Nachtmahr is front and centre in the movie, almost from the beginning, and this actually increased rather than diminished the tension.
Freaky, disturbing, and at times both confusing and disorienting, this movie is also notable for its jarring use of sound and music, especially during the party and flashback scenes, along with any time the creature is on screen. As well as the standard warning of extreme flashing images (which can affect viewers with epilepsy), we are also informed that the film employs “Isochronic tones and binaural frequencies”, which add to its narcotic and hypnotic perception, and that above all, this movie “Should be played loudly”.
The soundtrack features music and beats from the likes of local hero Alec Empire (Atari Teenage Riot) and Berlin resident Boyz Noise, and does a decent job of recreating the darker side of the city’s rave scene.
Set mostly in an unknown suburb outside of Berlin, we do see quite a few shots of the haupstadt, most notably a quick glimpse of Tina and her friends hanging outside Berghain, while many of the rave scenes were filmed at the now defunct Stadtbad Wedding. It will be interesting to see if such an excellent German film can make splash internationally, as it very much deserves to.
If you watch this film, particularly late at night, you will undoubtedly find your self praying, as I did, that Der Nachtmahr does not haunt your dreams.
The film premieres in German cinemas this week, and to win one of three sets of double tickets (3 x 2 tickets) to see it, simply write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, letting me know what the scariest moment in film that you have experience is. I will send the prizes to the 1st, 3rd, and 13th names who enter.