The films of German filmmaker Jörg Buttgereit are gaining new life thanks to the folks at Cult Epics. With Nekromantik, Nekromantik 2, and Der Todesking already attaining release, Buttgereit’s 1993 horror film, Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer, is next on the list.
You can view the trailer here.
Lothar Schramm (Florian Koerner von Gustorf, who resembles a young Uwe Boll) lays dying after a fall. As he slowly expires he revisits his past – a past filled with broken dreams, rejection, perversion, and killing.
The word “schramm” is, according to Ancestry.com, a “metonymic nickname for a person with a scar.” In the character of Lothar we find a person not with literal scars, but existential ones – a man beat down by life and the world. In his introduction to the movie, Buttgereit states that he wanted to capture the mind of a serial killer and wasn’t interested in “chain-smoking detectives who were trying to hunt down the serial killer.” Thus, Schramm isn’t so much a plot-driven movie as it is a meditative act of voyeurism with inspired bits of cinematography and filmic poetry. We are allowed into the life of Lothar to view his daily life, his habits, his faults, his frailties. The film doesn’t judge; it simply depicts.
What sets Schramm apart from other meditations on serial killers is that it depicts Lothar as a relatively normal individual. He has a job as a taxi driver, lives in a normal apartment, has hopes and dreams, etc. Gustorf’s performance lends the depraved Lothar an air of melancholic grace, his ennui hitting a bit too close to home. Of course, there are cracks in the facade. In the film’s sole depiction of murder, we see Lothar kill two German Bible-thumpers, place them is sexual positions and photograph them. We see him drug and molest his neighbor Marianne (Monika M.), a prostitute with whom he strikes up a friendship with and even drives her to a client’s house. And, in the film’s most cringe-worthy scene, Lothar nails his…well, maybe I’ll just let you watch it. Needless to say I was squirming in my seat.
Being a Buttgereit film, one would expect plenty of nastiness and bloodshed – he is the same guy who brought us Nekromantik after all. However, Schramm is rather subdued, confining the red stuff to only a few scenes – and it doesn’t flow liberally. What the film lacks in bloodshed it makes up for with Buttergeit’s skewed sense of humor: Lothar’s demise, the unveiling of his blow-up doll (which is nothing more than a torso with rubber lady parts), the alien-like vagina monster that pops up a few times – all merit a few chuckles and an eyebrow raised in full WTF!? gusto.
Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer proves that Buttgereit was capable of more than depicting necrophilia. Like the best efforts of film, Schramm transcends the genre and finds a place amongst the cinema greats. Those of you looking to get more out of your serial killer films, or just those who are looking for a beautiful film to watch, Schramm is sure to satiate your thirst. Schramm: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer is set to drop on April 12th. Get it. Watch it. Love it.