Rohtenburg (Grimm Love) (2007)
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Keri Russell plays Katie Armstrong, an American student in Germany studying criminal psychology. She chooses a notorious subject for her thesis: the cannibal killer Oliver Hartwin (played by Thomas Kretschmann). Oliver dreamed of eating a willing victim, and thanks to that great haven for all the demented and depraved - the Internet, he was able to find a volunteer, a young man Simon Grombeck (played by Thomas Huber). GRIMM LOVE is mostly told to us in flashback as Kerri Russell researches these men and their pasts. Events culminate with the discovery of a snuff tape that documents the crime. Rohtenburg is an incredible shot film that draws you into a personal story and guides you slowly into the darkness of a disturbed mind. While being an understated version of the facts it is still shocking enough to upset people with a weak stomach. This film was banned in Germany just a few days after it premiered there, but now German film enthusiasts and the cannibal-curious can finally watch the 2006 horror movie after a German federal court overturned a lower court's three-year-long ban that prevented its screening. The reason behind the initial ban? It's juicy stuff! Real-life German cannibal Armin Meiwes complained that the film, whose international title is Grimm Love, "sensationalized" his story and was far too similar to his case to have merely been a "fictional account inspired by real events," as the moviemakers attest. The lifting of the film's ban is said to be an epic decision on behalf of artistic freedom in Germany, as the court declared that the public's interest outweighed Meiwes' complaint.
I have to say, I?ve watched many a Horror and Slasher type film, seen torturous plots and of course I?m a huge fan of Serial Killer films, but I think I finally found my boundary here, as it was a little too sick for my taste. Perhaps it?s the fact that it is based on a true story, that certainly added to the chill of the film, but there was also something very realistic about the last few scenes, that felt a little too voyeuristic.
This gets two stars for being made without any serious acting or editing flaws. And it has thoughtful cinematography. That is all it does well. The only people who will see this are probably those already familiar with the true story, which is SO ripe for some really ground-breaking rule-breaking film-making but this film just turns into a sort of made-for-TV version of the story. There are four treatments of the story, and I wanted to see at least one of those (Lommel's 'Cannibal') before reviewing this, but I'm not gonna. The story, if you don't know, is about cannibal serial killer Armin Meiwes who advertised for a victim online, and found a willing participant named Brandes whose fantasy was to watch his penis be bitten off and devoured. Meiwes videotaped the "slaughter" of his "victim", which is why authorities and the press know that Meiwes was unable to bite the penis off, so Brandes had to settle for a knife. They both wanted to eat the penis, but Meiwes overcooked it after Brandes commented that it was too chewy raw. The movie does a fair re-staging (I wonder if the director/creators were able to see the real tape) but all of the gore is left out. We don't see any filet of dicklet or any anxious biting.... which that's half the reason I watched this - guaranteed fucked up combo of two fucked up things - castration and cannibalism. I also wanted to feel the bond between these two characters and how this act was making them whole, but all I got was Keri Russell's preachy and transparent voice-over, which her character was attempting to show "a sane and empathetic look at madness" but all it does is interfere in the pacing and mislead the audience. The acting between the two leads hits stride at certain moments, but for the most part Kretschmann is walking blocks around his counterpart. I also dislike the flashbacks of the men's childhoods, which is actually the reason why Meiwes was able to have this film banned in Germany (he didn't like people talking about his mommy issues). And I didn't like the movie using his mommy issues to prop up a Norman Bates figure for us, as serial killing is FAR more complex than an overbearing mommy. And, I need to say it again. I wanted more gore. One thing I don't know about this case (and I'm the sort of sick fuck that REALLY wants to see the real tape) is when Meiwes sliced off the penis, did he leave Brandes' balls on him or cut the whole sort of penile bulb out all at once? There's no reason why a movie with this content couldn't have answered my question there. In "Pink Flamingos", Waters wasn't afraid to show that Divine had let the manservant keep his balls, so why is a foreign director afraid of frontal nudity (of which there is NONE in this film) in today's market where the audience applauds when Hostel 2's protagonist clearly and nonchalantly slices off a penis and tosses it to hungry dogs as the movie's climax? I guess the director wanted to make something more meaningful, but he didn't and I don't know if they were able to use real transcripts/emails from the case, but alot of the crucial lines could have been better written. I reluctantly place this movie on my "That's Fucked Up" Movies list but only because of the premise; I don't think this can compare by a mile to most of my other picks on the list, and the premise is really the most "fucked up" part about it, so I'll just choose the most chilling scene to me as my "So Fucked Up" highlight: the first young guy who volunteers and then freaks out when he realizes Meiwes is for real
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