Razzennest Movie Review

Written by Stephen McClurg

razzennest poster large

Written and directed by Johannes Grenzfurthner
2022, 81 minutes, Not Rated
Screened at Film Maudit 2.0 on January 14th, 2022

Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh as Babette Cruikshank
Michael Smulik as Manus Oosthuizen
Anne Weiner as Ellen Zamaglione
Roland Gratzer as Hetti Friesenbichler
Jim Libby as Pat Kirkpatrick

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Razzennest is a brew of artfully shot documentary images set as religious and political critique combined with a found-footage horror film performed on a commentary track.

Let me unpack that.

The Razzennest onscreen is by fictional director Manus Oosthuizen (MIchael Smulik), who is recording a commentary track along with an interviewer, producer, and others. The images combine landscapes and religious iconography as criticism of the devastation of The Thirty Years’ War, which destabilized parts of Europe for years and led to all manner of atrocities, including witch burnings. In part, the film, as Oosthuizen sees it, is commenting on these horrors and the lack of any retribution from the religious institutions that prolonged and gained from the cruelty and bloodshed.

In the same way that Oosthuizen sees the war haunting the landscapes in his film, the images begin to not only haunt but also possess those taking part in the recording. They become possessed by people representing perspectives from the sides of The Thirty Years’ War and begin acting out those barbarities in scenes that play like part zombie, part cannibal film. The images impossibly begin to interplay with the sound. The movie is either controlling the interactions of those seeing it, or acting like a bizarre synthesis between the historical events alluded to and the present-day recording session.

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Given this setup, the religious iconography of the documentary film, and the initial awkward dialogue of the interview, more than a few people won’t make it through this movie. I assume this alienation is one of its goals. For those interested in film, it provides some perverse thrills buried within the egoistic buffoonery of director Oosthuizen. He’s in a double role, as king and jester, able to deservedly skewer contemporary film culture on one hand, and on the other, be a pompous twit. Along with the Herzogian bravado of certain metaphysical and existential statements on cinema, Oosthuizen also gets to be the source of much of the humor. The more juvenile, the better: “Eggers can suck my Aster!” or “You can’t put the shit back in the muskrat.”

If anything, the movie slams together disparate genres and tones. There’s a quality of conceptual art mixed with pranksterism that I appreciated more than enjoyed. Religious statuary plays against culture wars which play against goofy humor and brutality. All that and Joe Dante–for real. It feels awkward at first, and the jokes are flat as the interview starts, but as Razzennest progresses, it may grow on you if you’re open to it.

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Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover

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Stephen McClurg
Staff Reviewer
No matter how hard he tries to focus on music, Stephen always gets called back to horror culture. The inciting incident is likely the night his grandmother cackled through his wide-eyed and white-knuckled first viewing of Jaws at three. The ‘70s were a different time. Over the years, he has mostly published poetry and essays, but started writing with a review section for the Halloween edition of the sixth-grade school newspaper. He rated titles like Creepshow with a short description and illustrated pumpkins. His teacher loved it, but the principal shredded the final version before distribution since all the movies were rated R.
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