Monday, October 8, 2012

Requiem. (2006) Hans-Christian Schmid

A 2006 German possession film for October Chillers.

What better way to continue rollicking in Halloween horror than a dogme-like film about an exorcism, right?

Requiem is the story of Michaela Klingler, a young and devout German Catholic suffering from epilepsy. The disease held her back a year in high school, but now that she's nineteen she wants to attend University and study like any other college-aged kid, managing the disease on her own.

Away from her small town, in a city for the first time, Michaela quickly makes her first connection in finding an acquaintance from home. She also gets her first boyfriend -- along with her first drinks, her first kiss, her first physical encounter with another. So are the voices in her head and her recurring seizures symptomatic of her going off her pills, or is this demonic oppression due to her entrance into sinful living?

As the studies get harder and end of semester papers are due, life for Michaela slowly spins out of control. The voices are calling her a slut, and have told her to no longer pray or try to touch a crucifix. She wakes up in contorted positions, and feels seizures steal the use of her hands as she desperately tries to type. She begins rejecting her priests and her doctors and even her friends. Everyone's got advice, but no one can walk in her shoes. Perhaps it's easy to understand why she makes her final decision for exorcism, when she's brought home by worried friends and faced with either priests or the institution.

The film is based on the real life 1976 exorcism of Anneliese Michel, the same girl that inspired The Exorcism of Emily Rose. While Requiem feels more realist than The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the two feel like they offer similar sketches of the same story. Whereas The Exorcism of Emily Rose functions as a horror film, Requiem tells the story in more of a psychological character study. I mentioned the dogme movement before -- Requiem feels like Breaking the Waves in places. It had that strong, fluid camera work, that somber religious feel, and an incredible actress to pull the whole thing off. No special effects, no faces jumping out of the dark, no spider crawls, no backwards masking. Actress Sandra Hüller is believable simply by the way she fills the role of this troubled girl. Her physical presence on screen stands out. It makes the film.

Much to my delight, I was able to have a bit of back and forth with director Scott Derrickson when comparing the two films. That conversation is found Here.

Cleaned up and reprinted from Halloween (2010).
Requiem is available on Netflix Instant Viewing.

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