SEPTEMBER 18, 2010
Like Pig Hunt, Fragile, and The Tomb, Grimm Love has been sitting on the shelf for years, only to be picked up by Fangoria for their Frightfest series. Unlike those films, however, this isn’t really a horror film in the traditional sense, because the A story of the film is a mostly accurate account of something that really happened, tastefully depicted (as tasteful as a story about a couple of German dudes eating one of their own penises could be, I guess), and the B story is about a girl looking to do her thesis about the case, only to... uh, cry.
Yes, throughout the movie you’re probably going to be wondering why they keep cutting to Keri Russell (besides the obvious) as she goes around taking pictures of the two men’s childhood homes and schools and such, because it’s nowhere near as interesting as the real story, and doesn’t seem to have any inherent drama or suspense to it. There’s some nonsense about her getting “too deep”, but we don’t really SEE this, we just hear voicemails from friends saying things like “Hey where you been? Call me!”, and Russell wears less flattering makeup as the film goes on. And then in the final act they try to make it seem like she is in some sort of danger, as she seeks out the videotape that the killer made, which is anonymously offered to her by someone who knows where she lives (because she gave him the address). But she gets the tape without any incident, watches it, cries, and we never see her again. We don’t even know if she finishes her thesis, let alone what she got on it. It’s possibly the first time that the “wrap-around” portion of a movie doesn’t actually wrap around it – we watch her cry and then it’s back to the German dudes for the rest of the film, without even a voice-over by Russell (an annoyance throughout the film, to be fair) to wrap up her part of the story.
Luckily the stuff with the two men is pretty interesting, and the actors are incredible. Both Thomas Kretschmann (as the killer) and Thomas Huber (as the guy who says, on more than one occasion, “Bite my thing off!”, i.e. the “victim”) won awards at Sitges for their performances, and its easy to see why – you sympathize fully with both men and really care about them, making even the murder scene somewhat uplifting, as they both finally got what they desired most, regardless of how twisted it may seem to the rest of us. I wish they had spent a little less time on their back-stories and more on their time together (not the killing/dick-eating part, but more like the car ride to the house where they carry out their plan, things like that), but that stuff is interesting as well, depicting why these two guys have ended up in such lonely predicaments.
And this makes the Russell stuff even more infuriating, because that time could have been spent on the far more interesting part of the story – the concept of whether or not Oliver really “murdered” Simon, since he was a willing participant and practically encouraged it. The framework of the film should have been the trial, but apparently that hadn’t even happened yet when the film was made (way to jump the gun on the “let’s make a movie out of this!” approach). The end of the film doesn’t even provide a caption explaining the outcome of the case, which is baffling – even though the trial hadn’t happened yet when it was originally shot, they certainly could have gone back and added something like that to the end in the 4 years or so that have gone by since production.
Director Martin Weisz (who went on to direct Hills Have Eyes 2) provides a hilariously lo-fi commentary track (along one of the producers, who says about 9 words the entire time), where you can hear someone preparing some sort of food dish in the background along with other assorted background noises. And he sounds only slightly better than my commentary tracks, which means it sounds lousy. But he’s at least honest about the fact that the movie’s been shelved for a while, pointing out that it’s been years since he saw it (gotta be a first for a movie not being released as some sort of anniversary special edition) and also discussing at length the number of cuts that were made to the Russell story, which included a boyfriend that was cut entirely. While it may have helped give her scenes a less random feel, I doubt that they would have made her segments a more viable part of the film, and thus I agree with the decision to cut her screen-time in half. You can see some of them on the deleted scenes, which includes the sort of wrap-up approach to her story that the film SHOULD have included. But they’re also out of order and more often than not just extended versions of stuff that was in the movie anyway, so as a whole they don’t really do much for me.
If you know nothing about the story, then this is probably the best way to learn, as you can get the facts of the case delivered by two terrific actors as opposed to a dry Wikipedia entry or newspaper article. But if you’re like me and have already read such things, the movie actually offers less information than those (again, because it lacks any details of the trials – there were two, the 2nd of which resulted in a life sentence for the guy), rendering the movie a bit pointless, sort of like reading the Cliff’s Notes for a book you read and fully understood. A missed opportunity, for sure.
What say you?