I very seldom watch a movie that is so blunt, so god awful, that it takes months to overcome it. I’ve seen “Das Werwolfspiel” in May, and only now I have recovered myself enough to review it. I even had to go to therapy to cope with the gruesome images I’ve seen. Luckily, my friend flipthetruck knew a very good one.
It’s an independent “mystery”- “horror”- directorial debut by Austrian actress Johanna Rieger, who also wrote and starred in it. It is “based” on the famous role-playing game “Werwölfe” (“werewolves”), which is also present in the film. If you don’t know the rules, I’ll sum them up: there are two parties, one to 3 werewolves and the villagers. The werewolves want to extinguish the entire village, and the villagers want to kill the werewolves. Everybody lives in the same village, and no one knows who is who. during nighttime, the werewolves awake and kill one villager, and during daytime the villagers discuss who could have done the deed, and judge one person as a werewolf and burn him/her. If the person was the last werewolf, than the village is saved. If not, then the next night begins.
It’s a fun and exciting game, and also thrilling, for you can never know which person is a werewolf or not. And it’s a good idea for a movie…if done right.
A group of old “friends” meet up in a cabin in the woods after years of no contact to play the titular werewolf-game. Which should be a fun evening turns out to be a horror-night for everyone, for the characters because each player gets killed the way he/ she dies in the game, and for the audience because they have to watch this.
Slowly – VERY slowly – it turns out that one of them must be the killer. Is it connected to something that happened in the past, some crime maybe? Why did the group split up? Why do they come together again? Who is killing everybody? And why? Who is the person in the wolf mask that is lurking around? And why can’t anybody act in this movie? I guess none of these questions are answered, as nobody in this production seemed to care.
Where do I begin? There is not really anything good to say about the movie. The acting is non-existing. Every character just walks or stand around or speaks his/her lines bluntly and emotionless. There is only one exception, actress Rita Hatzmann, who may be the only one that acted in this movie. And her character gets killed in the first half of the movie! We know and learn nothing about these characters. Also, whenever someone gets killed, everybody else acts as if he doesn’t care. So why should we?
The framing is outrageous: The camera is just positioned on a tripod and then left seemingly unattended. The characters are too close to the edge of the screen, and talk to people on that side of the screen, not the opposite one. In “Les Miserables” the same thing was done, but there it had artistic purpose, and worked. Here it is just bad cinematography.
There is no lighting in this movie either. So all the light they used was the light of lighting bulbs. Even though it is an independent movie, and probably nobody got paid for this, this is not ok. I’ve worked on sets for short movies that were fully illuminated. If you care for it, then illumination, which is essential for filmmaking, shouldn’t be an issue.
The script sucks: The dialoge sounds artificially, the behavior of the characters is unrealistic, and the story makes no sense at all. The annoying girl, which is not only probably the killer (honestly I don’t remember it that well, and frankly, I don’t give a damn about it) but also played by a bad actress, asks what the reason was why the group has split up, when it turns out that she is the reason, because that one time when she was sexually teasing two men of the group (while wearing the same revealing shirt she is wearing on the game night ), they ended up having sex in a bed, I guess against her will.
However, I guess the movie’s main problem is not that it sucks, but that it is in fact unwatchable. It is not thrilling, not surprising, not remotely funny, not erotic (there is one lame sex scene in the kitchen), not even unintentionally hilarious. The movie sucks so hard it sucks all humor and vitality out of you.
Also, the makers have no idea how the actual werwolf-game works.
This may be a directorial debut, but the filmmaker has no talent at all. not for directing, not for storytelling, not for writing, not for acting. This movie is terrible. I may be the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life, and I don’t care that it is an independent movie, it’s rather an offense to independent movies as well. Stay away from it as far as you can. While writing this review I had to remember it, and it just infuriated me. I hope that now, with that review done, I can rest, and forget about it entirely.