Das schaurige Haus [The Creepy House] (2020)

Das schaurige Haus
Director: Daniel Prochaska
Writer: Marcel Kawentel, Timo Lombeck
Based on: Martina Wildner‘s novel [German]
Cast: Leon Orlandianyi, Marii Weichsler, Lars Bitterlich, Benno Rosskopf, Julia Koschitz, Michael Pink, Inge Maux
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 26.9.2020

Hendrik (Leon Orlandianyi) and his little brother Eddie (Benno Rosskopf) move with their mother (Julia Koschitz) from Germany to Carinthia in the south of Austria. Their mother is a geologist who will study caves in the area. Hendrik is less thrilled about having to leave all his friends behind. And as soon as they move in the house, strange things start to happen with Eddie. Hendrik meets local kids Ida (Marii Weichsler) and Fritz (Lars Bitterlich) who tell him of the legends surrounding the house. Together the kids start to investigate.

Das schaurige Haus is a pretty perfect example for a kids’ horror film: it is always aimed at kids without being patronizing, funny, and it manages to be creepy in the right dose. Even though I’m not a kid anymore, I enjoyed it as well.

The film poster showing the four kids Ida (Marii Weichsler), Hendrik ( Leon Orlandianyi), Eddie (Benno Rosskopf) and Fritz (Lars Bitterlich) with flashlamps. Below them is an old house, everything is shrouded in fog.

Das schaurige Haus tells a story that is rather nice (and also very sad), although it does have a couple of problematic tropes (like the smurfette syndrome) and left a couple of questions unanswered for me (for example what the fuck happened to Father Poltzmann – where was he in all of this). But I did like that they incorporated the Slovenian minority in Carinthia in all of it. It would have been even better if they had actually cast a Slovenian native speaker for Ida or Fritz.

Which is not to say that the kids they did cast were bad – quite to the contrary. Weichsler and Orlandianyi are really good, especially considering their young age, and they carry most of the emotional weight of the film. They are outdone, though, by Bitterlich who proves to have great comedic talent. At times it still feels like he’s trying a little too hard, but he is a scene stealer if ever I saw one (and apparently he improvised some of the stuff, which is even more impressive).

Eddie (Benno Rosskopf) points Ida (Marii Weichsler), Hendrik ( Leon Orlandianyi) and Fritz (Lars Bitterlich) toward something.

As a kids’ horror film, the horror elements were rather light – but they didn’t leave it out of this ghost story and I’d say the little frights here go a long way, especially for children. But the film is not all horror – there is also a coming of age element to it that rounds things off nicely. And it always has a sense of humor.

I haven’t read the book this film is based on, but I can definitely see myself watching this film with my nieces and nephews. I think that they’d have fun. I did.

Hendrik ( Leon Orlandianyi) in a dark room filled with hunting trophies.

Summarizing: exactly what a kids’ movie is supposed to be.

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