Review: The Children of the Dead
by Carlota Moseguí
- BERLIN 2019: The FIPRESCI Prize-winning film is a Super 8 musical comedy B movie that reflects on Austria’s Nazi past and its modern-day xenophobia
The Forum section of the 69th Berlin Film Festival hosted the world premiere of the debut film by the founders of the New York-based Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, which specialises in dance and theatre. The film debut by the American director Kelly Cooper and the Slovakian director Pavol Liska, entitled The Children of the Dead [+see also:
interview: Kelly Copper and Pavol Liška
film profile], is a free adaptation of the eponymous text by the writer, poet and playwright Elfriede Jelinek, which the filmmakers consider to be one of the best works of Austrian literature of all time.
The debut screenwriters and directors’ glorious silent sci-fi film, shot in Super 8, won the FIPRESCI Critics Award in the Festival’s Forum section. The feature itself, produced by the Austrian director Ulrich Seidl (Safari [+see also:
film profile], In the Basement [+see also:
film profile]), starts off at a resort in the quiet region of Styria, where dozens of tourists are arriving at the Alpenrose guesthouse, looking for a quiet holiday in Austria, and entirely unaware of the zombie apocalypse waiting just around the corner.
Karin (Andrea Maier) and her domineering mother (Freta Kostka) stand out from the huge crowd of descending travellers. After an extravagant dinner consisting of singing and traditional Styrian dishes, the tourists are run over by a bus. Karin dies in the road accident but soon returns to the world of the living as a zombie. Her new and unnatural appearance leads her to embark on all kinds of unimaginable adventures, such as defeating her evil double through the art of seduction, participating in a screening of amateur films at a cinema inherited from a Nazi widow, leading the upcoming zombie apocalypse and finally, dealing with her mother's infuriating tyranny.
The co-directors of The Children of the Dead employed a cast of non-professional actors to bring their absurd script to life, characterised by macabre humour and political impropriety. This is an excellent B-series musical black comedy that invites you to reflect on Austria’s Nazi past, as well as on the eruption of modern-day xenophobia.
(Translated from Spanish)
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