"God is refuted, the devil is not ...". This quote from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche opens up indie filmmakers Simon Spachmann and Olaf Zanetti's confrontational 2019 short BORN DEAD.
Koka Bud (Gunay Akoglu), his girlfriend Ursula (Nicole Geppert) and her mates are thrown out of a house party for behaving like jerks. To them, the night is still young and they want to continue revelling. They walk the darkened, empty streets bickering amongst each other until they happen upon a derelict house. One group member recognises it as being on TV news recently - its owner, a gay gynaecologist, disappeared under mysterious circumstances and the place has been boarded up ever since.
The group break in to the building and search it by torch light, where they discover a bed mattress downstairs with a pentagram scrawled upon it. There are also unlit candles, feathers and blood at the scene.
"It looks like a Satanist held a mass here" one bright spark exclaims. Meh, they snort a line of cocaine each, crack open some beers and begin dancing to an incessant industrial beat. That is, everyone but Ursula. She sits quietly in the corner, confessing to a friend that she's happily pregnant with Koka's child.
Ursula develops a bout of sickness and runs upstairs alone to find the bathroom. Instead she stumbles across an attic with several corpses in it; the scene of what looks like some hideous mass murder. A tragic mishap finds her backing into a stray pipe which penetrates her in the back and through her stomach. The blood of her unborn baby splashes onto two of the cadavers before her, bringing them back to life. And they're hungry!
Naturally, the party-goers downstairs are oblivious to these shenanigans. But, one by one, they all find excuses to leave the group at some point - Lenni (Simon Spachmann) needs a piss, Stimpi (Tobias Hofmann) goes outside to take a shit (why outside?!), another needs five minutes alone to collect her thoughts etc. Only Koka keeps dancing merrily along.
In the meantime, his friends are being individually picked off and slain in spectacularly grisly style.
All of which sounds rather pedestrian. But it's not, it's fun. And then the final five minutes kick in, which take proceedings in a totally different direction allowing for a whole lot more gore and an unforeseen subplot concerning a Nazi scheme aimed at achieving immortality.
BORN DEAD is 21 minutes and 43 seconds long. In that relatively short time it manages to cram in the following: foetus munching; heads torn in half; faces caved in with rocks; cannibalism; torsos ripped in half; tongues pulled out; jaws hacked off; eyes gouged out; skin flayed off skulls. Along with some of the worst dancing I've ever witnessed being caught on camera. The majority of the gore is of the cheap practical variant, courtesy of the talented Leni Dobler. In earlier scenes, there appears to be some CGI blood gushing? Later scenes are undoubtedly more accomplished leaving me with no doubt that this will satiate the needs of most gorehounds.
Crucially, the film has a lot of humour too. Some of which is admittedly puerile; at one point Koka farts near a mound of cocaine, blowing the powder into the air - this prompts him to hurriedly lean his nose into the resultant cloud and snort as much of it up as he can.
Filmed with a youthful exuberance that favours slick editing and up-tempo storytelling, BORN DEAD is an impressively pretention-free crowd-pleaser that knows precisely what its audience wants.
SGM were sent the film to review as an online screener. Technically, BORN DEAD is framed at 2.35:1 and makes good use of its widescreen compositions. Shot on HD, visuals are predictably sharp and imbued with rich, vivid colours. Blacks are largely stable due to healthy contrast. Audio came in German, but with the benefit of easily readable English subtitles. The subtitles are admittedly often a little broken in their translation - but if anything this just adds to the film's crazy vibe.
The limited edition DVD is currently available to buy direct from the filmmakers' production company's Facebook page - just search for Medienkuche Independent Film. Not only can you buy BORN DEAD there, but there are regular features and updates on future projects which look very interesting indeed.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Directed by Simon Spachmann and Olaf Zanetti|