When asked to review films for Cinepocalypse 2017, I read through the list and realized that PopHorror had already written about a majority of the titles available. Of the remaining films, I picked two I had never heard of and hoped for the best. The first one I chose was The Terror of Hallow’s Eve (read my review here), a Goosebumps-like tale of teenage revenge that takes place on Halloween night in 1981. My second choice, the German film Snowflake, seemed interesting, but I hadn’t heard anything about it. I had no idea if I was about to watch a floundering flop of a film, or if I had stumbled across a hidden gem. There was nothing left to do but hit Play and hope for the best.
The official synopsis:
Hunting down the murderer of their families in an anarchic Berlin of the near future, the outlaws Tan and Javid find themselves trapped in the wicked fairytale of a mysterious screenplay that entangles them in a vicious circle of revenge – apparently all written by a clueless dentist.
Also known as Schneeflöckchen, Snowflake was directed by A Time of Vultures’ (2012) Adolfo Kolmerer and William James from a script written by Arend Remmers (who, incidentally, wrote himself into the movie). Remmers incorporated Polish and English into his Germanic tale. The film’s score was Composer Román Fleisher’s debut, while for Special FX Supervisor Martin Goeres (Unplugged TV series), this was his 35th project. Konstantin Freyer (Into the Ruins 2016) took on the role of cinematographer. The cast includes Reja Brojerdi (Homeland TV series), Erkan Acar (A Time of Vultures 2012), Xenia Assenza (Goodbye, Berlin 2016), David Masterson (Renegades 2017), Alexander Schubert (Heute Show TV series), Adrian Topol (The Country Doctor TV series), Judith Hoersch (A Cure for Wellness 2016 – read our review here), Mathis Landwehr (V for Vendetta 2005) and David Gant (Braveheart 1995).
Let me get right down to it. Snowflake is an ass-kicking, blood-spurting, whip-cracking, adrenaline pumping ride through the dirty, decrepit streets and naked hinterlands of a broken German government on the cusp of new regime. The non-linear but captivating storyline, unique, idiosyncratic characters, humorously witty, rapid-fire dialogue and shotgun-blasting action reminded me of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in so many ways, I had to look to see if he had actually been involved in the filmmaking. It also brought to mind Game of Death (2017), a film I had reviewed earlier this year. The script is jam packed with witty, bullet-quick, utilitarian prose, too nippy to laugh at outright but facetious enough to carry a humorous air throughout the film, making even the most violent exchanges blackly humorous. The movie begins innocently enough, with two men, Tan (Acar) and Javid (Brojerdi), arguing over the food at a local döner restaurant. Within the first five minutes, however, this mundane conversation turns into a bullet-ridden bloodbath that doesn’t quit for the film’s 2 hour runtime.
I love the amount of distinctive, peculiar detail that went into each character in Snowflake. As vengeful as the Boondock Saints and as dry as the residents of Fargo, these people know what they want and damn anyone that gets in their way. Despite the fact that they’re leaving surviving family members as distraught as they once were, getting their revenge is the one spark that lights the wick on their wills to live. One can feel the tension in the characters as they react and respond to the poisonous atmosphere of a no- too-futuristic Deutschland.
Besides the vindictive Tan and Javid, there’s the naïve orphan, Eliana (Assenza); the emotionally drained bodyguard, Carson (Masterson); the junkyard-dwelling cannibal brothers, Bolek (Topol) and Dariusz (Antonio Wannek); the blind assassin, Fumo (Salem Tadese), and his partner, Rashid (Eskindir Tesfay), who drag around their captive, anthropomorphic robot (FX Supervisor Martin Goeres); the angelic, hopeful Snowflake (Hoersch); the superhero, Hyper Electro Man (Landwehr); the next Hitler (Gedeon Burkhard) and God Himself (Gant). Every single one of them is ridiculous yet memorable in his or her own way.
The addition of a fateful, meta script gives Snowflake a Stranger Than Fiction (2006) feel that makes the writer in me stand up and scream in selfishness, joy and despair. The dentist screenwriter, Arend Remmers (Schubert), not only gets to see his story play out before him, but he also becomes a part of it. The people around him live and die by his hand. Their fates are decided by the success of the story, and sympathy is not an option. No one is safe. It’s one thing to kill off a character on paper, but when you know your words are taking out a flesh and blood human being, it becomes a bit harder to keep typing. Although, if the story is that good, isn’t it worth the sacrifice?
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Composer Román Fleisher made his debut in this film, since the score is perfect… intense and heavy and laden with fanaticism. It helps build a depressing yet fervent air to Snowflake and gives the characters a dark, twisted framework to build their adventures upon. Sure, the film was shot almost entirely on DSLR cameras, but Freyer’s cinematography is absolutely stunning, despite the movie’s low budget and resources. If a film this morose can be called beautiful, then Snowflake is unequivocally gorgeous. Between the long shot of a mesmerized Javid as he walks ahead of the bullet-ridden carnage in Snowflake’s club to backlighting the angel so her wings seem to glow in the dark, every shot is pristine. Even something as simple as a slow crawl along an old incinerator chimney is memorable.
I also need to give props to the casting department. Hiring an “older” actress (Judith Hoersch is 36) to play the entrancing and ethereal Snowflake is something that never would have happened in Hollywood. It was refreshing to see a woman older than 22 portray a symbol of sexual longing, beauty and hope.
Snowflake is a freewheeling roller coaster of retribution, pitch-black humor and riotous bloodshed. Fans of Pulp Fiction, Smokin’ Aces and Boondock Saints should not let this one pass them by. I never would have known that the movie was filmed on a nano-budget over several years worth of time. The resulting project is as good – or better – than many of the things coming out of big budget Hollywood. The non-linear, character packed storyline dovetails perfectly in the end, creating a film Arend Remmers, DDS would be proud of.