FANTASIA – LUZ Creeps Out and Instills Looming Dread
DIRECTOR: Tilman Singer
WRITER: Tilman Singer
CAST: Johannes Benecke, Jan Bluthardt, Lilli Lorenz, Julia Riedler, Nadja Stübiger, Luana Velis
A cab driver, undergoing hypnosis, recounts her odd experience as police and investigators try and piece together events, but a sinister evil presence is lurking nearby and things quickly turn hauntingly bizarre.
LUZ is a creepy and disturbing little film that feels like the surreal byproduct of another era. When I first watched it, I thought I was watching a re-release of an older film. A large part of that is due to the fact this movie was shot on very grainy, 16mm, Kodak film. The grain and framing works perfectly and adds to the uneasiness, as well as hypnotic and frightening musical score — which also feels as if it’s decades old, when film scores really grabbed you and filled you with terror! This whole product has a timeless quality to it. You can’t quite peg the era, but the entire vibe definitely feels like Lucio Fulci, David Lynch, Andrzej Zulawski made a bleak multilingual, supernatural Giallo picture during the late 70s.
LUZ, named after the titular cab driver, has this looming sense of dread around it and that starts early on. The film really starts to kick with a gripping scene at the bar that introduces us to the psychologist and someone claiming to be an old school friend of Luz. Here we have some clever setup to things that will unfold later. We learn about Luz, through her old friend, while also introducing us to the main interrogator. After some great seductive energy and freaky weirdness, things kicks into full gear.
At that point we shift to the location where the majority of the film takes place, the interrogation room, with only the detective, psychologist, translator, and Luz interacting with each other throughout. Limiting the location and the characters adds to intensity, claustrophobic feels, and unease that permeates the entire mood of this story.
The filmmakers found a perfect and unique way to showcase Luz’s hypnosis session while moving the story ahead. Luz relives the moments, and her shocking encounter, in her imaginary cab, quoting her customers as they appear alongside her in her mind, as the translator is heard in the background retelling her thoughts… until they get so blasphemous that he won’t! The dialogue has a hypnotic feel to it, perfectly matching the onscreen hypnosis. Lines are often repeated by several characters simultaneously at once in german and then in spanish. The repetition just heightens the mood and consuming creepiness of these scenes until it all blows up in an utterly insane way.
There are a few eerie and disturbing effects, but the heavy mood, stellar performances, perfect dialogue, and that aforementioned sense of dread are the real standouts. The unreliable narrator device is used to great effect, with Luz often telling their side of things in a completely different manner. At any moment you’re not sure what’s going on or who’s in control. It’s one of those films that you’ll stress while watching, but need to continue to see how things resolve.
Yes, LUZ is weird, unforgiving and doesn’t over explain anything or insults your intelligence. It’s artsy without being pretentious. You leave not knowing what hit you until it’s too late and will forever have moments carved in your mind. When characters come off as absolutely unhinged– you feel that tension!
Under 80 minutes, LUZ leaves you wanting more in the best possible way. It’s an innovative horror flick that relies heavily on this perfect cast and dark mood as it flirts with the occult. One of the creepier demonic possession films of recent memory and definitely one of the better psychological horror films out there.
Seek this one out