Sennentuntschi [Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps] (2010)

Sennentuntschi is the newest film by Michael Steiner, written by himself, Stefanie Japp and Michael Sauter and starring Roxane Mesquida, Nicholas Ofczarek, Carlos Leal and Andrea Zogg.

Plot:
In a small village in the Swiss Alps, a young woman (Roxane Mesquida) turns up, naked, distressed and not talking. The village cop Sebastian (Nicholas Ofczarek) takes her in and tries to find out what happened to her. At the same time, a group of dairy makers goes missing from a mountain pasture. Are these two stories connected, like the village populace seems to think? And is there something to the legend of the Sennentuntschi*?

[*For people who don’t know the legend, which is not well-known, especially not outside of the German-speaking area: It’s basically the story of dairymakers – who spend the whole summer alone on pastures – building a sex doll for themselves that finally comes to life and exacts her revenge.]

I had pretty high hopes for this film. I mean, the plot of the legend does lend itself quite well to feminist interpretations/telling a female empowerment story. Unfortunately they completely screwed that up. And the ending sucked.

[SPOILERS]

The movie kind of toys with two stories: that the woman is actually a come-to-life, murderous sex doll or that she is the daughter of the local priest who got a passing gypsy pregnant. The mother subsequently disappeared and the priest locked the girl up in his cellar for twenty years, until she escaped, ran into the alps, ended up on the pasture, dressed herself in clothes that she found on a broom and was mistaken for a come-to-life sex doll.

The film tries so hard to keep you wondering while you’re watching that in the end, neither version makes sense anymore and it’s just frustrating. While the end, when they find the remains of Sennentuntschi, seemingly tells us that story number two is the real story, there are just plot holes three miles wide when you believe that.

For a story about a woman who takes revenge on her abusers, Sennentuntschi has surprisingly little agency. In fact, she hardly has any. She doesn’t even get a name, neither in the credits, nor in the film itself. Sebastian who takes care of her so diligently, doesn’t even ask for her name or makes one up to call her something and since she never gets to say a thing, she is in no position to tell the world her name. Worst of all, she doesn’t even seem to mind.

Also, at the point in the film (which is not  told chronologically) where she comes to Sebastian, Sennentuntschi has killed two men, skinned and stuffed three men and if you go for story number two, freed herself from her prison/if you go for story number one, is a supernatural being made for revenge. Despite that she latches onto Sebastian as if she couldn’t survive without him – which he accepts without commentary and reinforces with his own behavior.

Apart from the gender politics that drove me nuts, the movie has generally not much to offer: the cast is pretty mixed but mostly, it’s not very good. Roxane Mesquida does her best, but hasn’t much to work with. Nicholas Ofczarek, Andrea Zogg and Carlos Leal are fine actors, though their roles were weak and the dialogue more often stilted than not.

The rest of the cast was extremely wooden and the script was a mess. But the photography was quite nice, I’ll give them that. Just not nice enough to make the rest of the film worth it.

Summarising: Skip it.

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One thought on “Sennentuntschi [Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps] (2010)

  1. Rubbish. This is one of the best films in recent times. Don’t skip it. The film is very watchable with subtitles so you don’t need to know Swiss German, but it’s nice if you do. Few films compare favorably with the Shining or Ringu. This one does.

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