Rammbock: Berlin Undead
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Directed by Marvin Kren
Starring Michael Fuith, Theo Trebs, Emily Cox
Bloody Disgusting and The Collective
Originally Released: January 19, 2010
Rammbock, subtitled Berlin Undead for American audiences and Siege Of The Dead for UK Audiences, is a short but well-produced zombie flick that is not only highly entertaining, but does quite a significant amount of work to avoid common walking dead memes and stereotypes. The tale is solidly devised, and is a considerably engrossing viewing experience that focuses less on the monster-aspect, and more on the characters, making it stand out as probably one of the best zombie movies you’ll see.
Set in Berlin, the story focuses on Michi, a man intending to join up with his ex-girlfriend under a ruse to return her keys, but with the intent of attempting to rekindle their relationship. Upon arriving at her Berlin apartment, he discovers her absent, but meets a young plumber’s apprentice working there.
And that’s when the shit hits the fan.
Once the setting and key character elements are introduced, the zombie apocalypse invades the story, serving more as a backdrop and setting itself, rather than the focus of the tale. Michi, united with his new young friend Harper, are trapped in Gabi’s apartment, while the zombie hordes attack and feed on those who dare to venture out of safety.
What makes Rammbock a winning story is not the fact that it has zombies in it, but rather that the zombie apocalypse is the backdrop of the story instead of being the central point. With many modern zombie movies, the focus tends to be on the breakdown of society along with the gore and the violence. Berlin Undead continues to zone in on the characters and their needs and their wishes and desires – challenging them along the way. The dedicated focus on the people in the story makes for compelling viewing.
The title itself also lends a clue to this effort on the part of the writers. Ignoring the Americanized title of Berlin Undead; Rammbock translates to "Battering Ram", referring to a key scene partly through the narrative that is a symbolic turning point for the two main characters. Again, even with the title, the focus is more on the characters and their actions, rather than the zombies.
The location is key in this movie, in a small Berlin apartment complex with a courtyard below makes for a unique zombie movie set. There are echoes of [REC] here and there, with all those stairs, but there are numerous scenes you will never have seen in a zombie movie before. The choice of weapons is also extremely unique, with the writers focusing on new and unique ways to combat the hordes.
Clocking in at a little over an hour, Rammbock is a short movie, but don’t let that deter you. The editing is tight, and the pacing excellent. The fat has been trimmed, so to speak, allowing the storytelling to take priority – and although it’s only short, it’s an excellent viewing experience. The only criticism I can muster about the movie is that there are some minor plot holes and logic gaps here and there, though these are very few and far between.
The performances are top notch, with young Theo Trebs stealing the show as young Harper. Michael Fuith is also good as Michi, portraying an emotionally damaged being hurt and betrayed by the woman he loves, as the events of the apocalypse thrust him into a character building event.
For the horror fans, there aren’t a lot of frights, though there is some gore. The gory scenes are selective, carefully paced, and spread evenly across the movie so as to not over-inundate the movie in a bloodbath and flesh feast. The make-up effects are excellent, augmented with some CGI here and there”¦ and yet as with the gore, the film producers obviously wanted to ensure our characters remain the focus, and not the horror aspect itself.
You will find Rammbock to be an excellent viewing experience, even if you’re not really a zombie fan. The effort to zoom in on the characters, instead of the apocalyptic event, will magnify your eyes to the screen, and suck you into their universe as they fight for survival, and in some cases, for love. It’s definitely worth the watch.
Although it’s a concise film, Rammbock is a must-see viewing experience.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5