I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced so many things I like brought together into a singular picture where the final result wasn’t quite as incredible as I would’ve initially thought. Not that the picture isn’t good, just not quite as good as the fantasy amalgamation. Shoot for the moon, though.
Rammbock is a sixty-minute long German survival picture combining tiny elements of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window with the enraged viral outbreak victims with an appetite for human flesh (I needed a long, intelligent way to say zombies) of films like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and adding in its own unique contribution to the rules of the zombie universe. Essentially, the infected person’s regression into a mindless, ravenous existence is accelerated by an increase in adrenaline. So, if you’ve been bitten and still retain all of your limbs and consciousness then your transformation can be significantly slowed if you maintain a calm emotional state.
Michi has just been dumped by his girlfriend Gabi and upon his spontaneous return to her apartment to return her keys he gets attacked by a man there doing maintenance work. The man appeared to have no particular reason for attacking Michi or the man’s work colleague, Harper. Regardless, he was relentless, violent, and eventually had a swarm of friends joining him in trying to break down the door. Michi and Harper, a bit oblivious to how widespread the problem is, try and troubleshoot their way out of Gabi’s bedroom utilizing the few pieces of information and materials at their disposal to try and locate Gabi and hit the waterways where a boat is making runs to attempt to rescue survivors.
The Rear Window element comes in the communication Michi and Harper have with the surviving neighbors across the courtyard in forming a somewhat silent line of knowledge transmission in order to bring as little attention to their homes as possible. However, being extremely short on food and other supplies they know they can’t stay where they are forever and eventually will have to try and break out undetected.
For such a short picture and one as active as Rammbock is it oddly feels a bit longer – about as long as a typical full length feature – but, even more oddly, it isn’t dull. There are a few moments where things are a little uneventful, but not particularly uninteresting, however it’s the second half of the picture where the pacing picks up as the characters start to force themselves from one helpless predicament into all new ones. As the circumstances get more and more dire the intensity picks up and the audience’s attention begins to waver less and less.
Rammbock represents a rare breed. It’s a German zombie picture and not necessarily a zombie picture specifically about evil dead Germans, which Stateside we can’t get enough of. This film, though, is in no way intended to be a comedy about a zombie outbreak. It sits comfortably next to the likes of the recent string of undead pictures, adding its own interesting quirk to the ‘disease’ to make an oft-seen formula feel less tired. It isn’t exactly something you’ve never seen before, but it’s certainly not an unpleasant trip around a familiar neighborhood.