Ah, the found footage subgenre continues to mightily roll-on, over 20-years ago The Blair Witch Project  relaunched these films from the 70s on a spectacular internet marketing plan, then came the Paranormal Activity  which led to its own franchise, in both cases these movies made one believe that what they saw was authentic spook fests. This time we have a German production, using a former hospital/asylum for their story, however the filmmakers overlooked two of the biggest contributing factors for this flick, first the location is incredible, actually Beelitz Heilstätten, Brandenburg Germany built in 1898; the isolationism and how nature is working to cleanse itself of these past horrors. Secondly is the horrific true history, first noting that Hitler resided here during World War I, healing from a grenade explosion and then Nazis took over in World War II conducting insane experiments on anyone they chose. Now if that wasn’t enough from early 1989 to late 1990 a terror roamed the grounds, in the form of a brutal serial killer who became known as Die Bestie von Beelitz (The Beast of Beelitz) killed nearby workers and residents, especially the women. In March of 1990, one of the most heinous crimes was committed he smacked a baby against a tree and then strangled the mother before raping the corpse. Sick and Disgusting, but grounds for a good exploitative horror film, rather than one of countless found footage movies. Well Go USA Entertainment arranged the distribution of the German spoken film complete with subtitles, from indie director Michael David Pate who was aided by screenwriter Ecki Ziedrich, truly anytime a writer’s name is added to found footage it already assists in the destruction of an actual found footage movie. The reason being when you film a family gathering, is there script of what everyone is going to say, of course not, therefore, this position works to undermine the interiority of the production.
It’s a simple enough start to the film, there are two YouTubers who own a channel/broadcaster called PrankstersTV, there’s Charly (Emilio Sakraya) and Finn (Timmi Trinks), talking to Theo (Tim Oliver Schultz) who’s a tour guide aiding them to get inside Heilstätten. The location, slowly becoming swallowed by mother nature to destroy the sins and damnation that once occurred there, a sprawling complex of abandoned buildings. Why do all of this, because as they stated their fans and subscribers will love this adventure. In addition, to them it’s another rival video stars/influencers Betty (Nilam Farooq) and, Marnie (Sonja Gerhardt), who is consequentially Theo’s ex-girlfriend and her friend Emma (Lisa-Marie Koroll), clearly more for cannon fodder for the body count. Although there’s another reason, a side bet who can last 24-hours in the location of spookiness. Theo succeeds and the group have a run of the place, it’s quickly apparent that these characters are all extremely annoying, wasting time on the cameras, it’s here one routes for the location to end their shows and lives quickly. As they explore, we see the cliché shadows movement, ghostly figures, and also one by one these folks start dropping off, thankfully. Sadly, too many jump scares telegraphed too easily, and an unnecessary all too common twist for ending ruins any momentum the movie generated.
First, save yourself from the agony of watching the dubbed version, however aside from that there isn’t much to savage from the horrendous characters, thoroughly dull and a storyline that uses the tiresome POV-shots, and endless green screen to represent the night vision. There’s a glimmer of hope in the movie the camera light, is used as the sole light source in many scenes, resulting in limited scope, and leading to claustrophobia psychological impact. However, the film like many other found footage movies, makes a common mistake that ruins the illusion, the inclusion of a screenwriter, composer, editor, special effects, etc., none of these positions are needed for these types of films. There’s many rules and notes for filmmakers I mention in my reviews, but one that I keep returning to is location, location, and location, when one has either a huge complex of abandoned buildings or a single place with them decaying in various forms casting haunting long shadows, the spook factor echoing off of each in the middle of a bright sunny day, that’s what is used to the full effectiveness. It’s always going to the perfect natural background for any horror film exploitation the history, works to one’s factor, a winning strategy, this excels the creepiness, thereby using on the genuine features for atmosphere ignoring is insulting to the location and more importantly the audience.
The whole production is 29-minutes too long, just an hour would’ve been long enough using the format presented to the audience, actually the official music video for Rammstein’s ‘Mein Herz brennt’ filmed at the same location has more entertainment. Aside from the amazing location, that clearly squandered the film languishes in the realm of generic dull horror. When found footage movies performed to a higher standard such with The Blair Witch Project , Grave Encounters  and Paranormal Activity  it can work to immerse the viewer into the movie, and when it doesn’t overall film suffers as does the audience.
- Traust du dich? [Do you dare?]
IMDd Rating: 4.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 3.5/10