Film: Der Nachtmahr
Actors: Carolyn Genzkow, Sina Tkotsch, Wilson Gonzalez Ochsenknecht, Arnd Klawitter, Julika Jenkins
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Text: Yeonwoo Baik
One night, seventeen-year-old Tina goes to a party with friends. On the way to the party, one of her friends shows her a picture of a foetus that she saw in class, before jokingly combining it with a photo of Tina and making a little moving picture where the photo of Tina fades to the photo of the foetus. At the same party, another friend shows her a video of a person getting hit by a car. That night, Tina discovers something horrific in the bushes and later sees herself get hit by a car in exactly the same situation as in the video. This all happens while she is unconsciousness for a time, and from this moment the borderline between reality and fantasy becomes blurred. Tina begins to see a creature which looks quite like the foetus, but nobody around her can see it the way she does. Even her parents and closest friends begin casting doubt on her sanity.
The film follows the typical plot of a horror film to some extent. However, to interpret it merely as a horror film, or to laugh off its events as “just a bad dream» (a faithful response to the title of the film), fail to do it justice. We often see Tina apparently lost and out of place in a crowd, and although the film is not so kind in providing a detailed background of the main character, it appears that Tina has been treated for some psychological disorders. In the meantime, smartphones appear obsessively throughout the film, with kids desperately trying to connect, be connected and pay attention to their machine. It is easy to get the feeling that the anxiety regarding social rejection – a big issue for teens – might be even bigger for those suffering from psychological disorders, such as Tina – and this is one of the most important elements in the film. Beneath the surface form of a horror film, «Der Nachtmahr» has a coming-of-age theme at its core, with our multi-dimensional heroin Tina, at its centre.
The film goes one step further in exploring the inside world of teens. It never draws a clear line between reality and fantasy, though there is plenty of evidence that the foetus-like creature might be an extension of Tina’s self, a symbol for the angst and fear she feels as a teen who does not want to be an odd loner and fall separate from her ‘cool’ friends. However, the existence and the identity of the creature are never fully explained. The film gives off a sense of disorientation and fear of the unknown at all times, which is not an unusual thing for teenagers. The all-time dreamy and psychedelic pictures of the film also add to the formation of its core idea, which is to depict the angst of teenage life and to embark on a journey through a troubled mind. This is well-embodied by the brilliant acting of Carolyn Genzkow. Director Akiz has successfully blended together the elements of both form and contents, to build up his message.