Rammbock: Berlin Undead
Rammbock: Berlin Undead (2010)
★★ / ★★★★
Gabi (Anna Graczyk) asks Michael (Michael Fuith) to return the keys to her apartment because their relationship is over. She means for him to send them via post, but he thinks it will be a great gesture for him to return it personally. When Michael enters Gabi’s apartment, his ex-girlfriend is nowhere to be found. There is a plumber working on some pipes, but he is unresponsive to Michael’s questions. A few seconds later, the strange man with blood-shot eyes and ravenous demeanor attacks his partner, a teenage plumber named Harper (Theo Trebs), without reason. It turns out a virus has taken over Berlin.
“Rammbock: Berlin Undead,” written by Benjamin Hessler and directed by Marvin Kren, at its best, offers something new on how to repel zombies while, at its worst, sticking to conventions of the sub-genre.
Just about an hour long, which feels like an hour and thirty minutes, the movie might have been better if it had taken more risks by having fun. Set in modern times, I am always at a loss when characters in zombie movies seem like they have never seen a zombie flick. I find it frustrating that a mere utter of the word “zombie” is treated as a sin. It should not be. Since the characters are unaware, they are left with nothing better to do than to learn what the audiences already know. Where is the fun and excitement in that?
The picture takes place in an apartment complex where the residents hide in their respective spaces. Naturally, some of their loved ones become infected and the neighbors watch in horror from afar as the infected eat his or her family members.
Characters stumbling upon a unique way of preventing a zombie from chasing them does not save it from being average. Michael and Harper spend the majority of the time being stuck in Gabi’s apartment. Michael being an unlikable, delusional slug is actually a good thing. He is no hero; I was convinced that if faced with an infected, he would have no problem pushing someone else in front of him just so he could get away and continue to hope that he would see Gabi alive and willing to take him back.
The filmmakers should have taken more advantage of the environment. The chase sequences are exciting not just due to the number of zombies during rabid attacks, but also in the decreasing amount of space Michael and Harper must squeeze themselves through–slowly hinting at an inevitable dead end. Eventually, there is a rooftop scene. I have never seen zombies chase their prey on the roof. Just when we think it just might happen, we are greeted with a missed opportunity. Showing us the view of Berlin in ruins takes precedence over what could have been an enjoyable, even humorous, rumpus over great heights.
“Rammbock” has a few good ideas but its screenplay requires more drafts in order for the good ideas to turn great, to warrant a picture genuinely standing on its own, not leaning against its contemporaries to come off smelling fresh. For example, why not sharpen the connection between the end of a romantic relationship as a literal end of the world?