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December 2010

Siege Of The Dead

cast: Michael Fuith, Anka Graczyk, Theo Trebs, Emily Cox, and Steffan Munster

director: Marvin Kren

60 minutes (15) 2010
widescreen ratio 16:9
Revolver DVD Region 2

RATING: 6/10
review by Paul Higson

Siege Of The Dead

Nerdish Michael (Michael Fuith) arrives at the new Berlin apartment of Gabi (Anka Graczyk) the girl that has given him notice on their seven-year relationship. Still very much stuck on her, he means to rescue the relationship. His timing is rotten. As he enters the building he hears a man scream, shortly followed by the sound of a siren as the emergency services act. So begins Marvin Kren's Siege Of The Dead (aka: Rammbock).

In the apartment he finds repairmen but no Gabi. The burlier repairman has an infected wound and goes berserk, Michael and the second repairman, an apprentice named Harper (Theo Trebs), wrestle him out of the rooms on to the stairwell, and then barricade themselves in. The window gives them a view out onto the courtyard where a couple of unfortunates are descended upon by the infected that have been reduced to sprinting, ravenous, biting machines.

The view also takes in the other apartments and a handful of survivors now cut off from one another as the biters storm the stairwells at the smallest sound. There are ten survivors of the emergency in the building, two of them infected, and the future is not looking at all bright. The television reports that the pathogen kicks in when the victim is agitated, and sedatives have an abating effect, though it is only a matter of time before the infection eventually takes hold. Michael and Harper go on a mission - breaking through the wall into the next apartment, Mrs Bramkamp's (Brigitte Kren), which has the reputation of being something of an oversized pharmaceuticals cabinet.

They are mobbed and separated, Michael forced through to the attic where he discovers Gabi still alive, along with her new lover, Kai (Sebastian Achilles), who is the son of Mrs Bramkamp. Initially pleased to see him, Kai observes the cut on Michael's arm, an injury incurred as he broke through the wall, and the two drive him out through the roof. Harper discovers a way of repelling the biters and manages to clear the building but the rapidly shrinking band of survivors must get out of the town and take to the canals from which they might row out to Westhafen. It is from this direction that can be heard the periodical blasting of a ship's horn suggesting a floating safe haven.

Siege Of The Dead is a slight film, cost-effectively devised around limited locations and a small cast. To begin with it feels too small, claustrophobic but in a grubby way, not helped by the colours; initially mouldy greens replaced by drowning blues with a finishing line in the near dark. There was a concern that the film might not leave Gabi's apartment and so remain embedded as an apocalyptic tribute to Hitchcock's Rear Window as the duo communicate with the other neighbours across the courtyard air. The film does move on, though never very far. It doesn't hang around either, concluding within 60 minutes, closing credits all inclusive. Humour is sporadically incorporated but is not particularly funny. Given their circumstances some comments are too absurd giving the drama too big a kick sideways.

The infected, despite the title of the film, are never declared dead, but it is suggested that they are rabid, living victims of the pathogen. To that end the film is more like a sidecar sequel to Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later. The apartment setting, particularly the stairwell races and the old woman in the apartment waddling into frame before flipping out, are clearly under the influence of Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero's [REC]. Enough is compacted into the short running time to act as a decent calling card for Kren, and the film is aided further by a pleasing conclusive scene as the hero gets his girl, although hardly in the manner in which he would have preferred.



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