Rammbock: Berlin Undead (DVD)
Directed by Marvin Kren
Distributed by Bloody Disgusting Selects
With the current trend in zombie movies, it's only a matter of time before every country's film industries jump onto the bandwagon. This year saw the debut of Germany's first foray into the zombie genre with Rammbock: Berlin Undead and by the time the credits roll, you will not be going away disappointed.
Rammbock is the story of Michi (Fuith), a hapless guy who travels across the country to give his ex-girlfriend back her apartment keys in the hopes that seeing him again will rekindle their romance. When he gets there, he becomes trapped in her apartment as hordes of zombies run rampant through the streets. And while it might seem like a good set-up to get him back together with his girlfriend, she's not home. He winds up stuck there with a young maintenance worker named Harper (Trebs). Also in the apartment building are other survivors, who communicate by opening their windows and calling out their needs and information across the courtyard.
The "zombies" in Rammbock: Berlin Undead are more akin to the rage virus victims in 28 Days Later than they are to Romero's zombies, which makes them fast, vicious, and scary as all hell. From the first moment they are seen, the audience knows that they are wild animals who mean business. The makeup effects consist mainly of covering their mouths in blood and giving them white-out contact lenses, but it's their physicality that makes them seem terrifying. We've all seen vicious attacks in zombie films, but these beasts are a force to be reckoned with. Adding to the tension of the piece are the performances of the lead actors, all of whom play their parts with conviction.
What makes Rammbock: Berlin Undead so good is the intelligence that went into the writing. Yes, the fear is there, and the sets and lighting and use of colors do their part to make this piece visually stunning. The sound design, giving the zombies a high animalistic shriek every time they attack, is a nice touch, and the music goes a long way toward building the tension, but there are places in this movie that hit on solutions that no American movie has done yet. The introduction of sedatives to calm the victims before the rage virus takes control of them, for one, is an interesting moment, as is the way in which the characters go about their business in the complex.
In terms of special features, what's here is lean but really good. First up we get your standard fifteen-minute making-of which is thankfully subtitled and from there the best part of the whole package ... the seven-minute short film wonder that is Zombification. Let's just say if the dead ever do strike you better hope you have watched this video first!
To be fair, almost every zombie staple is there in this movie, right down to the "asshole" character that everyone hopes will get brutally killed and the "escape or die" plan. But it's the way in which director Kren pulls it off that makes the movie work so well and gives it its own distinct place in the zombie pantheon. With genuine scares and quite a few original quirks, Rammbock: Berlin Undead is not to be missed.
4 out of 5
3 out of 5