Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The truth be told, I don't want to tell you anything about the story of Ratline. First of all because it's an original story that actually is original for real, and not inspired by countless other genre movies. Second, it's far to complex to just write down a few words about. It's so much more than gore and nudity, but Ratline includes both of these fan-favourites - without being juvenile and talentless like for example the movies from another famous indie-director, Andreas Schnaas. I'm very new to the work of Eric Stanze, the director of Ratline, but last week I saw Savage Harvest - his first movie - and now his latest. What surprises me is how similar they are in atmosphere. Stanze has a very distinct style, and now it's more mature, more or less fully developed. I can't wait to see the movies he made in-between.
Nazis + Occultism = instant interest from me. And I'm not alone in that. It's a shameful fetish most of us enjoy reading about, watching movies based on and just spending a couple of hours on the web reading fucked up site about conspiracy theories about the occult nazis can keep me awake all through the night. Richard Stanley's The Secret Glory is a must-see documentary about the subject. The McGuffin in Ratline is the infamous Blutfahne, stained by the blood of the early Nazis during the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. An object said to have enormous powers, especially in combination between ancient occult rituals and quasi-science. It's here we meet Frank Logan (Jason Christ), a man with one single goal, to find the flag and continue the that was started in the 1940's. This leads him to a small mid-western town where he instantly gets interested in Crystal (Emily Haack), a lesbian on the run after a drug-heist gone wrong. And from there everything just goes downhill...
Ratline is an interesting and unique mix of horror, thriller and drama - but to be fair, it's mostly a very intelligent and emotional drama with touches of gore, nudity and Nazi iconography. Don't let this scare you away, because 105 minutes goes very fast, mostly because of engaging characters and a very unpredictable script (written by Christ and Stanze). The naturalistic acting and realistic locations gives Ratline an aura of the American seventies, or the realism of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, but without even wandering over the border of pretentiousness. John Cassavetes also comes to mind, with the similar themes and the same actors refining their works from film to film.
Talking about the actors, they're all very good. From Jason Christ to Joseph R. Engel, but the shining star is Emily Haack. She's an amazing character actress, who plays a character that feels 100 % realistic. She never fools us that this is a movie, she tells us that this is real. And for me, that's god damn real acting.