Totem (2011)

Director: Jessica Krummacher
Writer: Jessica Krummacher
Cast: Marina Frenk, Natja Brunckhorst, Benno Ifland, Alissa Wilms, Cedric Koch, Fritz Fenne
Part of: Viennale

Fiona (Marina Frenk) just started working as a housekeeper for the Bauer family. The mother Claudia (Natja Brunckhorst) is overwhelmed by everything and never leaves the house. The father Wolfgang (Benno Ifland) is barely home. The teenaged daughter Nicole’s (Alissa Wilms) boyfriend Ulli (Fritz Fenne) is about twice her age. The little son Jürgen (Cedric Koch) just wants to play. And the more Fiona stays, the weirder things become.

This movie was the absolute nadir of this year’s Viennale. The program touted it as a horrorfilm, which is a ridiculous claim. But even if I hadn’t expecter horror, what I got was just the worst. It didn’t have any redeeming features whatsoever.

You know, when people use the term “art film”, they either do so with a certain kind of reverence or they use it as an insult. And when they are using it as an insult, they’re thinking about movies like Totem. It’s boring, it doesn’t make sense and nevertheless never even comes close to craptastic. [Though there were moments where the movie had me laughing because otherwise I would have had to start to hurt myself.]

And when I say it doesn’t make sense, I don’t mean that you can’t interpret the shit out of this film. Surreality is all well and good and I’m quite a fan, but there is still meaning behind the surreal. This has no meaning at all. And the less something has meaning, the more interpretations are valid. In fact, the most fun I had with it was after we left the cinema and started to discuss the film coming up with the most outlandish interpretations. [We stopped when G. said that we had to because the movie started to make sense.]

I couldn’t even sleep during the film because I kept on waiting that something, anything would happen. I was so flabbergasted by what was going on on screen that the film almost passed through boring and came out the other end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite manage that feat and remains firmly planted in the Realm of Boredom, but it was a valiant effort.

I don’t want to say that this is the worst film I’ve ever seen, but I can’t think of any worse ones right now.

Summarising: I still can’t get over how bad this film is.


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