Thursday, April 27, 2006

Happy End. (2005, Daniel Stieglitz) played at Newport Beach Film Festival - German horror

The director was not present, but there was some commentary before the film about how he is a student - not a film student, but a business student. Fortunately this movie does not play like any sort of student film, it is not amateurish in any way. Still, plotwise, it plays out like a fan tribute to The Ring and The Sixth Sense, and yet the story holds it's own. Unfortunately some elements may be borrowed to closely from today's mainstream horror movies. It was a bit painful to watch the ball rolling down the hall, the children's drawings, and the security camera footage of young Joana in therapy. At least the production values are high enough for this not to be one of those indie horror films that makes you want to tear your hair out.

Stieglitz did a phenomenal job directing and really should consider doing film full time. His script also shows great promise though I disliked some of the details as I mentioned above. Two more mistakes include a quick montage near the begging of the film that shows a bunch of the upcoming scares (why do this?) and the presence of a Sixth Sense video tape in the film. There is a clever twist involving the tape, but I really would rather it had not been there at all, maybe just because I'm not a fan of that genre of horror anymore. Stieglitz has the potential to spice that genre up. He did not do so with Happy End., but it is one of his first movies and he impressed me greatly just by making a movie that can sit next to the big budget studio ghost movies without looking like a low budget knockoff.

The actors are terrific. The sets are terrific and the comedy bits are funny. This movie was projected off of the DVD (not available in the US?) and subtitled at the beautiful Lido Theater on the peninsula in Newport Beach. Despite being an attractive theater from the golden age of movies, it is perhaps not the best place for horror as it is not particularly dark when films screen. The theater is lit with blue lights and black lights that slightly illuminate glowing swirls of waves and sharks painted on the walls. I hate to see DVDs blown up on a huge screen, the quality just is not good enough for that, but oh well. I think Happy End. would be very scary if played at home, alone, in the darkness of your apartment. I did jump a few times myself at the screening.

After the movie a staffer ask me if I had any comments about the movie that he could e-mail to the director and I was not complimentary enough (I have trouble being nice sometimes) so here goes: Excellent job, Daniel Stieglitz, Cub and I were very impressed with your first full length movie, most film students will never create something so accomplished - a real movie.

If you are a fan of stuff like The Ring and The Sixth Sense, you should buy this movie, you will LOVE it. You can't get it on Netflix to my knowledge.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Fatally*Yours said...

Blast! I always miss stuff going on around here...>sigh<

I'll try to hunt this movie down. It sounds promising enough because I do love the Ring and thought the Sixth Sense was neat.

Thanks for the review!

2:14 PM  
Anonymous daniel said...

hi there!

this is daniel stieglitz, the director!
thank you very much for the nice review! you are very right with your points and i kind of feel ashamed for using so much ideas from other movies, but i really didn't knew that "happy end" would be shown anywhere else than in our university. it was meant to be an exercise and cost about 10 000 euro.
but i will definitely try to do it better next time (i'm studying visual communication and i'm working on the script to my next feature).

thanks again. the DVD is going to be released in the US this year!


greetings from germany



daniel (daniel.stieglitz@web.de)

5:12 AM  

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