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average rating is 4 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

May 18, 2024

Film Reviews
Directed by:
James Ristas
Written by:
James Ristas
Kris Salvi, Emma Geller

The story of the genesis of man, as told in the Bible, has been reiterated and mirrored countless times over the years, in films from ‘Pinocchio’ to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ to the various forms of ‘Planet of the Apes’, but perhaps none have more so taken inspiration from the storied tale in such a strange and peculiar way as ‘Ramgog!’. “Ramgog!’ is a remarkably strange film, one of a kind in every sense of the word, yet whilst it is no doubt curious, it is perhaps not the most engaging of films.


Written and directed by James Ristas, we are immediately thrust into a surreal landscape of total darkness as a man, played by Kris Salvi, and a woman, played by Emma Geller, step into the void. We are told that they are the last two remaining people on earth, a clever inversion of the story of Adam and Eve. Earth has turned completely into darkness, and our two protagonists are wailing over their abandonment by God.


Then ramgog, the creature that gives the film its title, appears, and things go from slightly strange to utterly off the walls crazy. The easiest way to describe Ramgog is as a philosophical, and apparently all-knowing, space monkey. In this story of genesis he is the Mephistopheles, offering information to the Adam and Eve of the film as to why this has happened. He is armed with a book on the teachings of sixteenth century German philosopher Jakob Boehme, which are second only to God’s own words in terms of importance. I guess they couldn’t find any holy scriptures in the dark. From utterly off the walls crazy, things only become weirder and completely batshit insane, with further biblical inspirations, including a nod to the birth of Jesus, as well as ideas credited to Boehme himself.

This is a religious film like never before, in that it’s both all about religion at all, should you choose to exercise your brain and make those connotations, but equally has nothing to do with anything at all should you choose instead to watch it without thinking. The latter is probably preferable, as the more you think about ‘Ramgog!’, the less you can enjoy it. It is fun surrealism, but unlike films by the likes of famed surrealist Luis Buñuel, the more one spends dwelling on and trying to decipher the hidden meanings behind ‘Ramgog!’, the more it becomes frustrating and ultimately less engaging.


This isn’t helped by the flat performances, as each line is delivered in a robotic, forced manner, and the two leads display a desperate lack of chemistry with one another. Screenplays in surrealist films generally allow for award reading of lines, but in ‘Ramgog!’ It’s past awkward, it’s straight bad. Furthermore, though James Ristas’ directing is magnificently bold and visually striking both in terms of the range of shots on display and what those shots are depicting, there is one moment - where the fourth wall is shattered - that completely takes the viewer out of the picture, and that silkiness that is present behind the camera throughout, disappears briefly.


‘Ramgog!’ is a strange film. It’s one that wants you to think, but is best enjoyed if you don’t. It’s surrealism is both it’s strength and it’s weakness, as you sense that perhaps Ristas is shooting too far with his attempt. Then again, such audacity should never be discouraged, and it is ultimately this boldness which makes ‘Ramgog!’ such a creative and, perhaps, an essential film.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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