Luz indie film review

★★★★

Directed by: #TilmanSinger

Written by: #TilmanSinger

Starring: #LuanaVelis, #JohannesBenecke, #JanBluthardt, #LilliLorenz, #JuliaRiedler, #NadjaStübiger

Film Review by: Darren Tilby

Tilman Singer’s German/Spanish-language graduation project, Luz, is a pretty straightforward horror affair. There’s no deeper meaning here; no hidden metaphor - at least there doesn’t seem to be. And, in places, it feels a little contrived. But it’s also an enthralling, Dario Argento-inspired retro-horror flick with haunting imagery and brilliant sound design.


Luz (Luana Velis), a young Chilean taxi driver with a somewhat mysterious past, arrives, dazed and confused, at a quiet police station late one night. Meanwhile, in a bar across town, Nora (Julia Riedler), a mysterious young woman – oozing confidence and sensuality – recounts to police psychiatrist, Dr Rossini (Jan Bluthardt), the story of her old schoolmate, Luz. What the psychiatrist doesn’t know is that Nora has been possessed by an evil entity craving the one who brought it into the world—Luz. Rossini quickly falls prey to Nora’s seductive charm, and, when paged to attend Luz at the police station, the demon makes its move. A now demonically-possessed Rossini arrives at the police station, ready to “assess” Luz.


If that all sounds a bit confusing, that’s because it is. It gets a little clearer as the film goes on, but this is a hard one to decipher. Partly because of the otherworldly nature of the film; the nightmarish dreamscape-like atmosphere, and partly because the characters, except for Luz, are so underdeveloped. Whether has been done on purpose – with the intent of heightening the already discombobulating tone – or as a consequence of weak character writing, I’m not sure. But it does make it a little difficult to connect with the characters at times. Performances across the board, though, are stellar, with Velis being exceptionally good with her fascinating portrayal of Luz.


To be fair, it all gels quite well with the movie’s retro vibe: the film’s mid-late 70s aesthetic, which emanates, primarily, from the filmmaker’s decision to shoot on 16mm film. This decision, along with some devilishly haunting imagery and superb sound design, bequeaths a grainy throwback quality to Luz. A quality with echoes of horror classics Suspiria and The Exorcist - indeed, Paul Faltz’s cinematography work is phenomenal. And completing that throwback ambience is the marvellous synth-heavy soundtrack – so popular in the 70s and 80s – from Simon Waskow, which is to be released on vinyl by Death Waltz Records/ Mondo Music.


As a graduation project, Luz is exceptional. While it falls short in certain areas and runs a little too long overall, this is a cracking feature-debut which brilliantly showcases the potential of Singer’s future. It's a refreshing and enjoyable take on the possession sub-genre, and it's releasing in the UK on June 1st.