Monday 1 October 2012

15 Second Review: Das Komabrutale Duell

Where to begin… Legend has it that Das Komabrutale Duell is the product of several short films stitched together. Well doesn’t it just feel like that is the case. Much like Spookies(1986) – again the product of splicing together existent material – the result is incomprehensible. I don’t always take it as a good sign when I come away from a film thinking “what exactly was that supposed to be about?”. I could lay out the plot here, but I would only be regurgitating those after-the-fact rationalisations that I have read elsewhere. In my experience of watching it, the synopsis goes a little like this:

People attack one another. I’m not sure if they die or not. One of the “characters” keeps a mini chainsaw in his car in case of emergencies, and as luck would have it, it comes in handy. Someone else gets their crotch kicked repeatedly (and that is undoubtedly more times than you are imagining). People keep attacking each other. Eventually the film ends.

Das Komabrutale Duell has gained something of a reputation among indie-horror fans for being “THE GORIEST FILM EVER!!!!” It is certainly gory. However, there are four immediate problems with that label:
1) When the viscera is this cheap-looking, it is not so much ‘hard to stomach’ as it is hard to engage with. For instance, someone is crucified and nails are hammered into their hands. Their “hands” look like stuffed latex gloves rather than flesh. What exactly is horrific about seeing someone nail a glove to a 2×4? Gore should be kin to a good magic trick. This is like a child showing off their new clumsily-executed sleight-of-hand illusion. It is sweet for what it is, but it is doomed not to dazzle
2) Playing the “GORIEST FILM EVER!!!!” game is risky. Given that Andreas Schnass was on the third entry in his similarly vibed Violent Shit series by the time Das Komabrutale Duell was made, Fipper’s project cannot claim an originality crown. Schnass’s Violent Shit was – for my money – just as incomprehensible, and its 3) Without context, the gore doesn’t mean anything. It is simply splatter. In that case, the viscera had better be damned good -or highly unusual – if it is going to constitute entertainment. Das Komabrutale Duell doesn’t manage that.

4) The absence of narrative movement stifles other forms of engagement. I doubt I am alone in assuming that Fipper did not intend the film to have any symbolic or political subtext. That is not to say that the film does not mean anything politically. My reading certainly is not based on intent. However, my assumption stems from what appears to be Fipper’s lack of filmmaking ability. The film does not prompt me to seriously engage with the ideas presented onscreen, because it does not appear that Fipper seriously engaged with the ideas he was offering.

I’m not sure whether Fipper encouraged people to recieve Das Komabrutale Duell as “THE GORIEST FILM EVER!!!!”, or if its reputation is entirely fan-imposed. Either way, the hype doesn’t pay-off. The remaining film has to stand on its own merits. Unfortunately, Das Komabrutale Duell has few merits to speak of. My advice for anyone intending on watching it is to do so on double-speed. One thing I will say in its defence – I liked it more than Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010).


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