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by Alexander Martinz Peter Kozek and Thomas Hörl

grade: 7.5

Dämonische Leinwände doesn’t want to take itself seriously at all, it doesn’t want to add anything to what has been made in the past, but presents itself – if one can say so – as a true love declaration to one of the most beloved film genres of all time. All this also with a welcome humour.

Zombies, mutants & co.

A true experience for the eyes, Dämonische Leinwände. This work, directed by Alexander Martinz, Peter Kozek and Thomas Hörl in 2019 and selected for the Diagonale 2020, was included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished, following the cancellation of the festival.

And if it is true that Austria, until now, has been particularly prolific with regard to experimental cinema, this shocking Dämonische Leinwände confirms itself as a further, good product that belongs to all those works that, in their own way, attempt to experiment with new languages. But, in fact, what is this Dämonische Leinwände about?

Shocking, exciting, overwhelming, this singular film immediately presents itself as an unusual journey through film history – and, specifically, horror film history – through various reinterpretations of the most famous horror films. And so, as we watch a young man have his reflected image stolen in a mirror (a scene reworked from the expressionist cult film The Student of Prague, directed by Paul Wegener in 1912), we immediately find ourselves in a city invaded by living dead for unique experiences of Romero-style memory. Without forgetting important references to feature films like The wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973), The Seventh Seal (directed by Ingmar Bergman in 1957) or even Bad Taste, made by a very young Peter Jackson in 1987. All this accompanied by bizarre commercials where coarse products for special effects in films are sponsored.

A montage film, this Dämonische Leinwände, carefully divided into three (not too) distinct parts: Uninvited, Arrival and Beyond. A medium-length film that in no way wants to take itself seriously, that wants to add nothing to what has been made in the past, but which presents itself – if one can say so – as a true love declaration to one of the most beloved film genres of all time. All this also with a welcome humour.

And here Austria merges its film traditions with those of the rest of the world, creating something totally new, deliberately fragmentary, where extremely saturated, bright and dazzling colours confuse and shock the audience along with disturbing background noise deliberately edited out of sync.

Film grammar, then, is here totally turned upside down. There are no rules in Dämonische Leinwände. History is exposed and rewritten in a completely new way at the same time. And woe betide anyone who tries to find some sort of narrative plot in its most classical sense. This interesting work asks the spectator to simply let himself be carried away by the screening, without asking himself too many questions about it, but, at the same time, enjoying observing the funny expressions of the actors – deliberately over the top – or the coarsely achieved special effects. To ask questions, there is always time. But now is finally the time to let go, with numerous visual experiences, all concentrated in just under fifty minutes.

Original title: Dämonische Leinwände
Directed by: Alexander Martinz, Peter Kozek, Thomas Hörl
Country/year: Austria / 2019
Running time: 49’
Genre: horror, experimental
Cast: kozek hörlonski, Alexander Martinz, Martina Menegon, Laura Grassberger
Screenplay: kozek hörlonski, Alexander Martinz
Cinematography: Martin Music, Paul Wimmer
Produced by: Peter Kozek

Info: the page of Dämonische Leinwände on the website of the Diagonale