(director/writer: Tilman Singer; cinematographer: Paul Faltz; editors: Fabian Podeszwa/Tilman Singer; music: Simon Waskow; cast: Luana Velis  (Luz Carrara), Johannes Benecke (Olarte), Jan Bluthardt (Dr. Rossini), Lilli Lorenz (Margarita), Julia Riedler (Nora Vanderkurt), Nadja Stubiger (Bertillon); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Dario Mendez Acosta/Tilman Singer; Screen Media Films; 2018-Germany- includes German & Spanish dialogue with English subtitles)

“Smartly avoids the usual cliches for demonic possession films.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The young German writer-director Tilman Singer makes an auspicious directing debut in this slick demonic pic, one that smartly avoids the usual cliches for demonic possession films. Apparently made as an experimental horror pic for a school film-studies thesis project.

The emigre from Chile, the boyish looking woman Luz (Luana Velis), works as a female cabbie in an unnamed German city. We first see her on a rainy night bloodied from an accident and walking briskly into a run-down police station, but who is ignored until she starts screaming at the desk receptionist. While Luz is telling in Spanish about the incident to two indifferent detectives, who refuse or can’t respond in Spanish, the police psychologist Dr. Rossini (Jan Bluthardt, a stage actor) is at a bar on the other side of town being seduced by the only woman in the place, Nora (Julia Riedler, a stage actor). She’s Luz’s old schoolmate from Chile, who either was a passenger in Luz’s cab during the accident or maybe wasn’t; and, furthermore, she mentions that Luz was obsessed with the occult while they were together attending a Chilean Catholic school for girls. Meanwhile in some unexplained way a strange transference occurs between Nora and the shrink (leading us to think supernatural), as she knows the shrink is about to get a call from the police station to evaluate Luz and wants his support in the interview.

Rossini, while drunk and possessed, interviews Luz, who speaks in a disembodied voice that doesn’t feel like her own. Weirdly enough the shrink uses hypnosis on her, as she relives the evening’s events in the presence of Commissioner Bertillon (Nadja Stübiger) and the Spanish translator Olarte (Johannes Benecke).

In this ambitious, ambiguous and diabolical occult film, built around an off-beat interview and the presence of an evil force in the room, things dramatically change in a moment’s notice. The confused viewer has enough of a story to try and figure out on his own about what’s happening. I won’t spoil the fun by giving you more details; but, as the filmmaker desires, let you come to your own conclusions about this intense psychodrama–a disturbing film that wants to leave you off on a frightening path.

It’s a technically sound, stylish and well-acted film, a slow-burner that refreshingly seems unlike most of the other recent conventional genre possession films. Though very watchable, even if it doesn’t amount to much, it’s not for everyone.

Luz (2018)

REVIEWED ON 7/21/2019       GRADE: B