Saturday, 8 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: The Urban Explorer (aka The Depraved) (2011)

The Urban Explorer (aka The Depraved) (2011)
Director: Andy Fetscher
Starring: Nathalie Kelley, Nick Eversman, and Klaus Stiglmeier
Running Time: 94 min

    This is from Germany and it's relatively new, so I have high hopes for this being incredible depraved, cuz it's in the title, and very violent.  Especially after seeing films like "Schramm", "Violent Shit" and "Nekromantik", I know zee Germans have a wonderful way of creating of terrifying and disturbing cinema, so hopefully this will not disappoint.

  A group of four young people, who have never met before and are from all over the world hire Kris, an "Urban Explorer", to show them the underground tunnels of Berlin.  They meet at an undisclosed location and Kris promises to show them something very special or they don't have to pay after the tour.  Apparently, someone discovered a secret bunker containing walls with Nazi art and murals but it had to be bricked up to keep out Neo-nazis.  Fortunately, Kris has brought his wall smashing tools and promises them that this will be a very unique journey.
  The group is excited and head through a dance club to get into the tunnels.  Once inside the group pushes their way through the dark dank tunnels and run creepy creatures, including a pair of Neo-nazis.  Unfortunately, one of the girls accidentally takes a picture of them and the angry one with the dog wants her to remove it from her camera.  Terrified, she removes the picture but these guys sick their dog on the group.  Lucia batters the dog just in time with a board but now these two guys attack their group.  Luckily, Kris is able to defuse the situation and they leave the group alone.  The group, then continues on their journey and reach a chasm that they must cross with the aid of a makeshift bridge.  The group makes it across and climbs up to the ruins that they have been looking for.  They all marvel at the wall murals of the Fahrerbunker (Hitler's subterranean garage) and everybody enjoys a well deserved break from the hike.  Kris tells them a story about how people believed that Nazi Super Soldiers were created in these tunnels and some people believe that they or there offspring still exist here.  They all laugh at the folklore and pay it no mind.
  Later on, Kris lets everyone know that it's time to head out.  Unfortunately after crossing the makeshift bridge, Marie, one of the girls takes a picture of the bridge.  This flash disorientates Kris, who is still crossing and plummets into the chasm below.  Denis, the American, throws down his climbing ropes to see if Kris is alright but he's not.  Kris has a broken femur, some serious internal wounds and is out cold from the pain.  Denis asks Lucia, who is a nurse, to come have a look to see if she can do anything and her only recommendation is that they need to get Kris out of there or he'll die.  Thanks nurse.  Denis and Lucia send the other two girls, June and Marie to get help and they stay with Kris in case someone shows up there.  And a little while later somebody does show up,  Armin a crotchety old Stasi guard, who likes to hang out in the tunnels.  He finds a stretcher and helps Denis and Lucia get Kris moved out from the chasm.  Armin instructs them to take Kris to his place, so they can call for help.
  When they get to Armin's place, he offers them some food and berates them for coming into the tunnel because it's so dangerous.  The conversation then turns tense and uncomfortable because Armin tells them terrible stories of when he was a soldier, how he shot people and how him and his friends used to dress up male captives in women's clothing, have their way with them and then skinned them alive.  Charming.  Eventually, Armin leaves the room and Denis follows him to ask a question but Armin injects him with something that knocks Denis out.  When Denis wakes up, he is tied up and can hear Lucia screaming!  Can Denis save Lucia from this madman and escape these terrifying tunnels or are they trapped like rats and will he face the same fate as Armin's other male captives?

  This was pretty good considering that this was director Andy Fetscher first full length feature.  There is very claustrophobic feeling you get watching these characters explore the tunnels, as well as a chance of impending dangers from not only the poor conditions of the tunnels but the creatures/people who call these urban caverns their homes and Fetscher really does a good job exploiting this aspect.
  There are some pretty intense scenes with Klaus Stiglmeier, who plays Armin and his portrayal of this character is what makes this film for me.  He is smart, rough and crazy with a bad sense of humour and he reminds me a lot of Mick Taylor from "Wolf Creek".  He is basically doing the same thing, by collecting tourists, eating them and laughing at them for putting themselves into these terrible situations. 

  To be honest, I'm not crazy about the premise and how the group got into the tunnels.  I think it's a real stretch of the imagination for people to go into a setting like that, the underground tunnels, with someone you just met with a hand full of cash in yer pocket and the guy leading you won't tell you his real name.  I wouldn't do that.  However once you get past that part and the group gets into the tunnel, then the story clips along nicely.
  Also, I was really surprised that the violence doesn't really go to that next level like I was expecting.  There isn't really that much physical violence and brutality in this, except for a bit with Lucia but that is pretty brief and tame, considering the level of violence in films like "Hostel" and "Wolf Creek".  **SPOILER** Also, the story only really focus on these two characters, Denis and Lucia and it would have been nice to see more of the Juna and Marie characters.  However, I am torn because I did like the reveal later in the film, which uncovered their fates, but I think there might have been a real opportunity missed here for some other terrifying shit.  **ENDSPOILER**  I did like the ending at end and now the story wrapped up for most of these characters but I wish the film was a little more gratuitous.
   As well as, I wasn't crazy about the story arch with Kris and how that was left.  **SPOILER**  He was suppose to be a death's door and then he just wakes up and he's able to move around.  I was really hoping that he worked with Armin and that he was going to get fixed up or we was going to be killed because he had fucked up with the tourists, but nope.  He just hobbles away and dies outside the tunnels, how dull is that?  He could have killed or tried to kill Armin with one last stab before he died, maybe been kept alive by Armin and cut into pieces for meals, or even just tortured at the end, cut to black with screams.  So many options, even just letting him die earlier on and forgetting about him would have been better because he really didn't bring anything in the end.  **ENDSPOILER**
  Finally, I was really excited about the talk about the Nazi super soldiers and how there was urban folklore that said they still existed in the tunnels.  **SPOILER** Unfortunately, This is a red herring but I was really hoping that there was more of this in the film.  There is a scene where Lucia has escaped and she is helped by an old man.  I was hoping that he was one these soldiers and would bring her back to Armin's place.  Unfortunately, the old man is no one and is killed.  Super Soldier Cannibal old man would have been a great twist instead of Armin just catching her again.  **ENDSPOILER**

  Even with that all said, I still think that this is a pretty decent film and it's worth checking out.  It has some creepy scenes, there is some good violence and Klaus Stiglmeier is incredibly enjoyable as Armin, the ex Stasi guard.  This isn't the ultraviolence that I was expecting but still a disturbing enough story from the tunnels of Berlin.

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