Thursday 4 October 2018

100 Essential Films That Deserve More Attention - 16. Schramm: Into The Mind Of A Serial Killer

People embrace the enchanting glow of the big screen for all manner of reasons; to journey to faraway places they could only ever imagine, to experience the escapism of a captivating story, or maybe to indulge in an obsession with the world of cinema. For me, all three of these reasons apply - and many more - but first and foremost is the satisfaction of recommending obscure films to other like-minded individuals who adopt them as their new favourites.

With over 100 years worth of films to choose from, and many of these now available at the click of a button, it can be extremely difficult to narrow your choices down to pick a film to watch. Although cinema has been around for over four times longer than my life on this earth, I have spent what some may consider an unhealthy amount of these years delving into the history of films to discover some of the best hidden gems out there.

This series of articles aims to highlight the overlooked masterpieces that I have unearthed whilst exploring the forgotten recesses of cinema. Take a gamble on any one of these films and I guarantee that you will be eagerly awaiting all future instalments in this series. You may well have heard of a number of these films; my aim isn't merely to shine a spotlight on the most obscure films out there, but to share my enjoyment of those films which don't have the cult following I believe they deserve.

Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer
Director - Jorg Buttgereit
Country - Germany
Year - 1993
Runtime - 65 Minutes

Many Film Directors have taken on the unenviable task of delving deep into the mind of a Serial Killer in an attempt to accurately portray the twisted motivations of remorseless murderers, whether real or fictional. German born Jorg Buttgereit is one such Director who went to extreme lengths when exploring this notion. All who brave his grotesque horror; Schramm: Into the mind of a Serial Killer, will experience a disturbing facet of the carnal instincts that can drive a man to butcher his own kind, in a film that shows us the horrific last days of a fictional murderer known as the Lipstick killer.

Buttgereit’s most infamous film is Nekromantik, a notoriously sickening horror about a necrophiliac. If you are familiar with its style of exploitation in the guise of art, then you should expect more of the same in Schramm; an underappreciated head trip that visits the dark and disturbing recesses of a killer’s psyche. Just like in Nekromantik, no topic is considered taboo, and the images of torment we are subjected to throughout Schramm’s short runtime test the extremes of a viewer’s patience and disposition in the face of vile depravity. Whilst this depravity is artfully construed in places, there are elements of violence that have no redeeming qualities, and their inclusion is meant purely to shock and upset the audience. Those with a nervous disposition may wish to sidestep this recommendation entirely; these grotesque scenes cannot be unseen, even if taken as a whole they combine to create a lurid and macabre tale that challenges our preconceptions of human nature.

The lipstick killer’s story is told through a series of mesmerising flashbacks that invite us into his darkest dreams and fantasies, as well as showcasing the cruel moments of violence that he inflicts on himself and others unfortunate to cross his path. These moments are accompanied by Buttgereit’s trademark industrial soundtrack that brings a sombre mood to the proceedings; its deep, brooding synthesisers prolonging the sense of dread and unease as the lipstick killer savages innocent victims and retreats into the safety of his twisted thoughts. The pervading sadness of the music is overwhelming, evoking the sense of being at a funeral parade or being subject to a wash of negative emotions as we watch the killer’s downward spiral unfurl in front of our eyes.

The killer’s only companion in life is the hooker next door who brings out his compassionate side and protective nature, as he taxis her to lucrative yet dangerous jobs. When clients visit her at home he struggles to hold back his animalistic urges and we are forced to watch as he acts on his inner desires in an uncomfortably voyeuristic scene.  The subsequent nightmare he suffers feels like the bastard child of Lynch and Cronenberg; a perverse slice of body horror that defies description and manages to top the excruciating sequence of genital mutilation that confronts us earlier on in the story.

Those involved in creating the special effects have succeeded in depicting all of the grim details in a very realistic manner. The gore on show is incredibly visceral, and Buttgereit frames it centre stage, adding to the sense of realism as we see in close detail the butchery of various body parts. The grain of the film stock enhances the feeling that we are watching a homemade snuff film, and the erratic camera work adds to this uneasy atmosphere. There is a raw brutality to Schramm that is troubling, even when we know that the scenario is fictional and the acts of wanton violence we are exposed to are not really happening. This is the work of a warped mind, and a provocative journey for anyone who is willing to take it, regardless of your predisposition for films that tackle such a dark and horrific subject matter.

If you take the time to watch Schramm then it would be awesome if you could also take the time to let me know what you thought of it, either by commenting below or tweeting me @filmbantha. Thanks, and enjoy!

For previous instalments in the series click here

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