Arthouse Horror Razzennest (PANIC) Delights with Original Approach to Horror
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Writer: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Runtime: 81 Minutes
Starring: Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh, Michael Smulik, Anne Weiner
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2023.
Many fans of film yearn for the opportunity to learn more about their favorite films and creatives are often more than happy to share their insight behind-the-scenes with those thirsting for knowledge. Thus, audio commentary tracks are recorded and often advertised as bonus features on physical media.
In Razzennest, Director Manus Oosthuizen (Michael Smulik) meets with critic Babette Cruickshank (Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh) as well as his crew Ellen (Anne Weiner) and Hetti (Roland Gratzer) to discuss his latest documentary. Not long after the taping begins, a terrifying force is unleashed on the studio.
Wildly creative and uproariously hilarious, Razzennest is arthouse horror that skewers elitism in film and criticism.
Both a criticism and defense of arthouse film, Razzennest delivers a unique horror experience that will catch audiences by surprise. Almost as if a screenplay overlapped a film, Razzennest combines two distinct styles of storytelling by separating them. The commentary finds itself syncing with the eye-catching visuals onscreen swirling around to tell a truly demented story. One of the most challenging aspects of Razzennest becomes its greatest attraction. While the visuals can be haunting, it can be easy to drift off in the devilishly captivating audio track. It’s only when the dynamics of the film kick into gear that it makes much more sense.
Perfect pacing allows Razzennest to pull off its bold and satiric take on cinema while giving it enough of a twist to appeal to a wider audience. It starts off slow but soon enough Razzennest shows its true colors. Since the carnage happens offscreen, it is important to keep the audience invested in what is happening while stoking their imagination. The expert sewing of clues at first gives the audience every bit of information they need to accept the rather quick transformation of the story. This shift makes the film’s more peculiar energy turn into something more bombastic at the perfect moment. From there, Razzennest wastes no time in fleshing out its story and making a polished exit.
Much of the film’s critique shines through its dialogue and characterization of its faceless cast members. From overzealoushost Babbette to the full-of-himself phony artist Manus, the cast of Razzennest paints a clear picture of the irony with their strong voice acting. All sides of the camera are lampooned in an appropriate amount throughout, which makes it a fun free-for-all that doesn’t moralize too much. Directors can be hypocrites and arrogant, podcast hosts can be pedantic and unprepared, and the film crew gets stuck doing the dirty work and having to fight the most demons.
Chilling cinematography and dynamic camerawork sync with the story in an almost prophetic manner. While its mentioned earlier, Razzennest works so well because it matches up the initially indecipherable energy of the film with the chaotic energy of the audio commentary recording. The moment the woods becomes a main character in the story changes the direction of the story. What was once random but interesting images becomes something alluring with direction. This is especially true once the camera begins moving at a much higher pace and in a more frantic manner. By the time Razzennest reaches its end, the sturdy framing of the first act pales in comparison to the wild jaunts in the caves and on the forest floor.
Easily one of the oddest films of the year, Razzennest works both as an exercise of experimental fear and a satirical roasting of filmmaking. The arthouse horror’s ability to wax between the mystical and terrifying to the comedic is commendable given the film’s original approach to storytelling. It may lose a bit of steam by the time it reaches its end, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most intriguing offerings of 2023. For genre fans seeking out something devastatingly original and fantastic, look no further than 2023’s Razzennest.
Overall Score? 8/10