Here is an interview with the director of Razzennests, Johannes Grenzfurthner!
Razzennest is a snazzy title, and something that really makes me crave pizza. Makes me want to seek out that razzle dazzle. That is all of the double z words I can think of in a short span of time, I apologize for not being able to make that introduction joke go longer.
Razzennest might be a German word meaning Rat Nest, or it can be something very different on who you ask.
Regardless of who you ask on translating Razzennest, the film itself is a film that cannot be translated into any other film for comparison. It is a film unique on its own, and we shall see why in a moment.
This is a cock.
The Thirty Years War (which lasted about 30 years) took place in Central Europe in the 1600’s. It involved the church, of course, people getting kicked out of windows, and just a lot of religious inspired death. Razzennest is about that war, kind of.
The imagery that starts the movie, landscapes, broken buildings, statues, fill the screen, until we hear a voice. Whose voice? Why Babette Cruickshank (Sophie Kathleen Kozeluh) of course. Because she is introducing us to the director’s film commentary of the film, Razzennest. Strange names aside, you would have been confused (if you didn’t read this description first) and thought there was a mistake, but do not worry, this is intentional. Because while you will see the film Razzennest with your eyes, you will quickly see the real Razzennest was not just the friends we made along the way, but the fake director commentary on top of it.
Because director Manus Oosthuizen (Michael Smulik) is an asshole, and has a vision, and hates dumb questions and mispronounced names. And the beginning of the commentary is full of conflict and angst. But unfortunately, darker forces are afoot in their commentary room, and things will only get weirder and scarier from there.
Also featuring the voices of Roland Gratzer, Joe Dante, Jim Libby, Anne Weiner, and Bob Rose.
This is a hole in the ground.
Razzennest is a HARD film to talk about, because honestly, just mentioning the type of film it is feels like a spoiler, even though that happens immediately. It almost felt like telling people to “get ready for the fake trailers” in front of Tropic Thunder. Just let it happen. But I also know it would be hard for me to talk about anything else, than the commentary track, since that is 95% of the film.
Yes, it still has visuals. But the visuals were clearly chosen to not be distracting, but aiding instead. Real footage of places in Europe, of old destruction, of old structures, of nature, and former battlegrounds. But there are no characters on that screen. There is not other dialogue, or interactions. It is just scenes spliced together, sometimes aggressively, to enhance the commentary story. It often matches the tone and uncomfortableness in some ways with the commentary, clearly being extremely deliberate with the editing so that it is an enhancer, not a hindrance.
In terms of the dialogue, you know, the 95% of the film, it has a pretty varied cast of characters with distinct enough voices and mannerisms to not confuse the viewer. Without knowing exact amounts, the first 1/3 of the film is meant to just be uncomfortable, awkward, and a bit silly and funny. But there are hints of what to come. And damn it, I can keep at least that part a secret still. After all, this is a Horror Comedy, not just a Comedy.
The film’s goal is to both make fun of the pretentiousness of arthouse award winning indie films, while also, at the same time, being one itself. It is punching across, not down or up. It was done on a shoe string budget, with an idea that Hollywood would never try out, because it would be a hard sell for audiences.
I had to go back into my memory banks, the only experience I had that was similar to this was Sounds Dangerous!, which was a Drew Carey audio show attraction at Disney World. The audience was given headphones, and were mostly in the dark, to experience this audio story telling device, with many sound cues to make the audience get all weird feeling. It was unique, and yet, Razzennest is clearly unique-r.
Razzennest is adding complexity to it, by having visuals, by making it meta, and by both deconstructing a genre while partaking in the genre at the same time. There is really nothing like Razzennest, and I honestly can’t imagine too many things being like Razzennest in the future either. Unless this sort of film starts to take off, like Found Footage films did after The Blair Witch Project.
I fully recommend checking out this movie if it is ever in your vicinity, although I realize that will likely be hard for some time. Because there is nothing else like it available. Until we get Razzennest 2 in twelve years, to tell a similar story, but with water!
3 out of 4.