Germany | 2018 | Directed by Tilman Singer
Logline: A young woman enters a police station, while a doctor is chatted up by a woman at a bar. A demonic entity loiters, determined to finally be close to the woman it loves.
In arguably the most genuinely retro-vibed unclassifiable movie in years this German tale of supernatural possession and yearning operates perfectly like a bad dream, with oneiric logic, mood and tone. Drenched in atmosphere with a cool synth score from Simon Waskow, icy, muted 16mm cinematography from Paul Faltz, and a mesmerising performance from Chilean Luana Velia in the titular role, Luz is writer/director Tilman Singer’s paean to the existential horror of the late 70s - think Fulci meets Lynch - as theatrical as it is cinematic, as weird as it is entrancing.
Several characters, including tomboyish cab driver Luz (Luana Velis), a psychiatrist, Dr. Rossini (Jan Blurhardt), and Luz’s old roommate Nora (Julia Riedler), become embroiled in dark shenanigans at a desolate bar, and a run-down, lonely police station. There is black magic at play, there is much manipulation, but it’s not entirely clear who is doing what to whom, as flashbacks merge with the present, as fantasy binds with reality, as a demon god seizes humanity. All will be revealed … or, suggested, in good, short time (the movie is just 70 minutes long).
Indeed, much of Luz feels like improvised, like some kind of organic Brechtian experiment in narrative. Singer’s controlled nightmare - apparently his film studies thesis - is a study in mood and tone, as rich in subtlety as it is restrained in special effects, yet still manages to provide a deeply satisfying and pervading sense of the creep factor. This is definitely an acquired taste, as it doesn’t offer much in terms of narrative coherency, instead layering ambiguity upon ambiguity. Like David Lynch’s Eraserhead, it is a dream of dark and troubling things, with smoky, lush imagery that burns onto the back of the retina.
Luz is the confident and striking work of an exciting new filmmaker with loads of potential, and I can’t wait to see what he does next, as well as irresistible Luana Velis.