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by Johannes Grenzfurthner
Razzennest is a true visual and auditory experience. A bizarre, exhilarating and adrenaline-fuelled journey between past and present, or better still, into a present where the past is always ready to return more cruel and ruthless than ever. At the Diagonale’23.
Past. Present. Cinema.
When one is about to watch a film by Johannes Grenzfurthner, one never knows what to expect. Yes, because, in fact, the director, who has always been eager to experiment with new cinematic languages, has over the years given us true gems of the horror genre, totally unsettling and innovative features, also enriched with a welcome black humour. This was the case, for instance, with the recent Masking Threshold (2021), as well as with Razzennest, made in 2022 and presented as part of the programme of the Diagonale’23.
Razzennest, then, is a true visual and auditory experience. A bizarre and adrenaline-fuelled journey between past and present, or, better still, in a present where the past is always ready to return more cruel and merciless than ever. It all begins, then, with evocative and seemingly unconnected images. The voice of Babette, a film critic, enthusiastically introduces the director Manus, who is about to introduce his newest feature film, Razzennest, to the audience. Their dialogues, soon joined by the director of photography and the producer, keep us company throughout the screening.
“Why should I explain my film to the audience? My film simply consists of the images you see on screen”, says Manus at the beginning of the interview. The film critic immediately seems very superficial and with little knowledge of the subject. The director, for his part, is rather arrogant and conceited. And so, with this sharp satire on the film industry, the whole thing kicks off, going all the way back to the Thirty Years’ War, to the holes in Lower Austria where some families used to hide, and to our dramatic present.
At the same time, numerous references to film history itself, to Werner Herzog, Terrence Malick and even the brief participation (strictly in voice over) of Joe Dante make Razzennest even more complex and layered. Johannes Grenzfurthner is not afraid to dare, to go over the top. On the contrary, he enjoys playing with the viewer and his perceptions, well aware of the fact that – as we have seen over and over again over the years – what one is most afraid of is, in fact, what one cannot see.
Razzennest can easily be compared to a rollercoaster ride. An intelligent and never trivial satire on the art world, but also a merciless portrait of the very world we live in. When the director of photography starts vomiting non-stop, a true crescendo begins. From that moment on, terror gets the better of every other emotion, the images on screen seem more alive and pulsating than ever, and we ourselves have the impression of irretrievably losing control over everything. Johannes Grenzfurthner has once again managed to surprise us. His Razzennest is a unique film, extremely refined and studied down to the smallest detail. An experience that should definitely be lived to the full.
Original title: Razzennest
Directed by: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 81’
Genre: comedy, satirical, horror
Cast: Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh, Michael Smulik, Anne Weiner, Roland Gratzer, Jim Libby, Bob Rose, Joe Dante
Screenplay: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Cinematography: Florian Hofer, Philine Hofmann, Ronald von den Sternen
Produced by: monochrom