Die Kinder der Toten [The Children of the Dead] (2019)

Die Kinder der Toten
Director: Kelly Copper, Pavol Liska (aka Nature Theater of Oklahoma)
Writer: Kelly Copper, Pavol Liska
Based on: Elfriede Jelinek‘s novel
Cast: Andrea Maier, Greta Kostka, Klaus Unterrieder, Georg Beyer, Lukas Eigl, Tamara Pregernigg, Renate Stoppacher-Rainer, Jula Zangger
Seen on: 23.4.2019

In the hotel Alpenrose in Styria, everything seems to be alright. Travelers Karin (Andrea Maier) and her mother (Greta Kostka) are enjoying their evening at least. But shortly after Karin dies in an accident. Only she isn’t really dead. And she isn’t the only undead around: when a Nazi widow (Renate Stoppacher-Rainer) starts an underground cinema that shows movies that celebrate the fascist past, it draws zombies to the area.

Die Kinder der Toten is incredibly absurd. While I may not have liked everything about it, I really enjoyed it. And I definitely haven’t seen something as strange in a long time.

The film poster showing the mother (Greta Kostka) leaning over the body of her daughter Karin (Andrea Maier) next to a car wreck. The entire image is in inverted colors.

I haven’t read Jelinek’s nove that this film is based on (but if it’s only half as absurd as this film, I need to give it a go), but that’s okay – neither have the writer-directors of the film. Instead they opted for basing their film on the wikipedia summary, and of oral summaries of the people they shot the film with. That is a fascinating approach to literary adaptations, I have to say, and I’m really intrigued by it (yet another reason I want to read the book and compare it to the film).

They were faithful to the original in at least one point: the film is shot entirely without spoken dialogue (there is only one moment when we hear words in a quote). Shot on 8mm and without words, it calls back to the time of the Nazis, when home movies were like that (though not in color). It underscores the entire film’s very idiosyncratic vibe, as if the story itself wasn’t idiosyncratic enough on its own.

The mother (Greta Kostka) leaning over the body of her daughter Karin (Andrea Maier) next to a car wreck.

The film is funny with pitch-black and bitter humor, and a nice sense of criticism. There were some aspects I am still undecided about: did I really like them? I don’t know. But I can say for sure that I was engaged with the film the entire time and there wasn’t a moment where it didn’t have my attention.

And I can also say for sure that there is no other film like Die Kinder der Toten out there. It is definitely worth giving it a go.

Karin (Andrea Maier) running through a foggy field.

Summarizing: very much its own thing.

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