Nachbarn (1999)

This one I first saw many many years ago at film festival, and re-discovered it a short while ago on youtube.

Nachbarn is a horror-comedy short, with the emphasis strongly on the comedy part.

It is also a proto-mockumentary, with the opening shots clearly meant to be taken straight from a fictitious police or TV news crew’s camera. The film itself is living off the dichotomy of perspective, from which also much of the humour is derived: we see and hear what was actually happening, but this experience is accompanied by the hero’s voice as narrator, who tells the same story from his skewed perspective, with a number of extenuations and omissions.

Our “hero” is a roughly 60-year-old German pensioner – conservative, boring, and very much keen to not have his piece of mind disturbed. When a number of goths/vampires build an extravagant castle ruin next to his orderly, beige German house, he is very much discomforted. And when he and his wife are invited to their new neighbours’ house-warming party, disaster strikes.

 

This 15-minute short film was one of the early works of Carsten Strauch, who has since gone on to write and direct a mainstream comedy for German cinemas as well as some TV work. Unfortunately, he seems to devote much of his time now to acting, instead of writing and directing, but I suppose that is just an easier and less stressful way of making a living.

 

The writing is very good and the film is full of great ideas. The acting is great throughout, and the sets look amazing for a short which was probably produced with very little money. The set design and goth elements do not look all that dated for a film that is 17 years old.

The distributor has put Nachbarn up on youtube [Link]. The quality of the picture is adequate, but the English subtitles do not always sufficiently transport two of the important elements of humour in this film: the stilted language used by the narrator, and the gap between his narration and the events that are happening in reality (as mentioned above).

Still, strongly recommended for all fans of the genre. 8.0 to 8.5 out of 10.

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