Mar 12, 2017

Der Nachtmahr

It is a long story, but somehow I used to know a gay Sicilian-American that somewhat resembled a young Julius Evola who became a mystical-minded neo-eugenicist of sorts because he was so obsessively disturbed by the low quality of young women in his native NYC and was quite rightly convinced that many of these debutantes were forsaken whores and too hopelessly drug-and-dick-ridden to actually sire healthy offspring.  Convinced that he was on some sort of holy mission in a decidedly dysgenic age where Western governments subsidize the proliferation of racial untermenschen at the expense of the mostly Europid taxpayers, this superlatively strange gay guido, who once told me in all seriousness that he believed that Soiled Sinema was one of the darkest and most depressing website on the internet, had personally known his fair share of dumb party bitches that took too much ecstasy and felt it was his sort of quasi-spiritual duty to preserve superior genetic material that had not been despoiled by modernity. Undoubtedly, this eccentric homo wop eugenicist, who had obvious maternal instincts and clearly suffered from an advanced form of ‘ovary envy,’ was thinking about the sort of teenage kraut raver sluts featured in the experimental Teutonic horror-sci-fi-fantasy Der Nachtmahr (2015) aka The Nightmare directed by ‘Akiz’ aka Achim Bornhak (Das wilde Leben aka Eight Miles High, Shakespeares letzte Runde aka Will's Grill) when he decried the reproductive unsuitability of many modern women. Quite provocatively and fittingly, Bornhak’s feature, which features a bizarrely lovable yet somewhat tragic gargoyle-like fetus monster of sorts, deals with themes of birth, death, motherhood, and womanhood, thus making it a cinematic work that is certainly more socially pertinent than it might seem upon a superficial glance. Set in a nation that is committing collective suicide via to its rapidly declining racially indigenous birthrates and released around the time of the racially apocalyptic so-called ‘migrant crisis,’ Der Nachtmahr—a not-so-orgasmic odyssey about a vapid teenage raver slut with seemingly nil authentic personality that starts losing her mind while simultaneously developing a strong connection to the somewhat enigmatic fetus monster—is indubitably an auspicious cinematic work in a somewhat perversely preternatural form where raw and visceral teenage sexual appeal collides with ostensibly banal things like motherhood and reproduction. Indeed, for better or worse, there is no film quite like Bornhak’s somewhat unclassifiable feature, even if it features some glaring cinematic influences. 

 Part arthouse, part exploitation, and part exercise in spastic genre-defilement, the film certainly surprised me when I first saw it as I am familiar with Bornhak’s most popular flick Das wilde Leben (2007) aka Eight Miles High—a fairly generic biopic about dark-haired German 68er-Bewegung hippie icon and model Uschi Obermaier—which lacks any sort of genuine artistic merit or originality and feels like it could have been directed by any nameless soulless for-hire hack. A seeming expression of the same culturally retarded (pre)apocalyptic post-nihilistic Europa that produces tragic melancholic Nordic wigger rappers like Yung Lean, multicultural British alt-pop groups like Young Fathers, ethno-masochistic antifa-supporting far-leftist half-breed filmmakers like German-Greek auteur Nikias Chryssos (Der Bunker), and intriguingly unhinged yet talented Dionysian divas like Italian actress-cum-auteur Asia Argento, Der Nachtmahr is unequivocally a potent example of a sick and deracinated Americanized Occident that has lost its soul, succumbed to debauchery and complying with every base instinct, and completely forgotten its rich history and cultural legacy. Indeed, Bornhak, who has been supported by people ranging from David Lynch to artistically bankrupt urban scribbler clown Banksy, is clearly a degenerate of sorts, but some brutal truths bleed through his film in a way as if the auteur somehow managed to expose the hidden screams and cries of the decidedly diseased German collective unconscious.  In fact, although assuredly a victim of modernity himself, Bornhak has been influenced by the writings of ‘Aryan Christ’ Carl Jung and his film offers an esoteric view of the excesses of Berlin youth culture and the soulless spiritual void that is (post)modernity.

 Set in a decidedly deracinated trash-covered ‘post-racial’ Berlin that makes the Weimar Republic seem like the height of class and cultivation by comparison and featuring an inordinately sexy ‘heroin chic’ female lead that looks like a Russian sex slave and plastic multicultural cast that includes (but is not limited to) gooks, towelheads, uppity high yellow negroes, assorted mystery meat, and a seemingly self-loathing kraut with a fake Hispanic name (babyface rocker Wilson Gonzalez), Der Nachtmahr could not be more appropriately titled in both the literal and figurative sense. Part of an anti-intellectual romantic genre-conscious trend in contemporary German cinema that includes similarly generically titled films as diverse as queer auteur Till Kleinert’s art-horror fever dream Der Samurai (2014) and Greek-German Nikias Chryssos’ dank dark comedy Der Bunker (2015), Bornhak’s artsploitation experiment can certainly be enjoyed by those individuals that either loathe or loathe art (translation: it has entertainment value). Somehow managing to combine elements of David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1977), Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void (2009), the film is a sort of forsaken Fräulein Donnie Darko for a nihilistic age where young women seem to more prefer to get drunk and high and sleep with countless guys than do something so deplorably anachronistic as actually get married and have children. Undoubtedly, it would also be fairr to describe the film as being like a marriage between Frank Henenlotter's classic exploitation flick Basket Case (1982) and Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers (2012).  In short, auteur Bornhak seems to have eclectic taste in cinema, including American arthouse, exploitation, cult, and even mainstream big budgets blockbusters, or so one would assume while watching his rather ambiguous feature.

In an interview with AFI, Bornhak notably confessed, “There are plenty of filmmakers I truly adore. But none of their films have been a direct influence on DER NACHTMAHR. At least I was not aware of that while I was working on this film. Looking back at DER NACHTMAHR, I can see some influences from E.T., which was a film I saw when I was a kid. Some say DER NACHTMAHR is like E.T. on acid. SPRING BREAKERS and IT FOLLOWS came out when we already had picture lock in the editing room, and I haven’t even seen IT FOLLOWS yet. My greatest filmmaker role models are David Lynch, Gaspar Noé, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Werner Herzog, Chris Cunningham and Stanley Kubrick.”  In the same interview, the auteur would also reveal that he came up with the idea for the fetus monster long before he ever decided to create a film centering around said creature.  In that sense, Bornhak follows in the footsteps of his hero David Lynch in terms of taking an incremental approach to filmmaking that involves obsessing over certain single ideas and images that ultimately act as a genesis to a more intricate cinematic creation (for example, Blue Velvet was sired from a number of ideas, including Lynch's obsession with spying on a girl while hiding in her closet).

Apparently borrowing its antiquated Teutonic title from the 1781 oil painting of the same name by Swiss artist Johann Heinrich Füssli (1741-1825) that features a demonic apelike incubus crouched on the chest of a beauteous young woman in a deep sleep, Der Nachtmahr is also interesting in the sense that it is a hopelessly modern take on Germany’s great history of dark romanticism. Indeed, if Teutonic Art Nouveau painter Franz Ritter von Stuck had grown up in modern times and developed a hedonistic obsession with teenage flesh, shitty vacuous rave music, and designer drugs, he might direct a film like Bornhak's. 

 Beginning with a sensational disclaimer reading, “WARNING – The following film contains flashing lights and patterns which can cause epilepsy! Warning – This film contains isochronous sounds and binaural frequencies! Anyway – this film should be played loud!,” Der Nachtmahr immediately announces to the viewer that they are about to experience a harsh and grating yet aesthetically pleasing audio-visual drug of the transcendental sort. Ultimately, the viewer is exposed to the increasingly unreliable mind of teenage protagonist Tina Petersen (Carolyn Genzkow) after she encounters a strangle little creature and becomes increasingly alienated from her clueless parents and good-for-nothing dope fiend friends. To be somewhat blunt, tiny Tina seems like your typical dumb teenage party bitch, as she has no problem pissing in the middle of the street and exposing her shaved pussy in public after she gets good and wasted. At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Tina and her two equally vapid best friends ‘Moni’ aka Monika (Lynn Femme) and Barbara (Sina Tkotsch) as they act like spastic hens and talk about stupid shit while they are driving to a pool party to celebrate the protagonist’s birthday. Among other things, Tina discusses deformed fetuses that she and Monika were exposed to at school earlier that day.  While by no means a serious student or scholar, Tina seems to have been deeply affected by one of these barely human miscreations of god.

When Monika—a loudmouthed Asian that seems to be the most domineering of the thickheaded threesome—dares to make a .GIF of Tina transferring into an especially grotesque fetus, the protagonist is immediately disturbed and demands that her friend immediately delete the photo, as if she has a premonition of things to come. When they finally arrive at the party, Tina gets drunk, pops some pills (assumedly ecstasy), and then gets all moody and broody about a dopey dork rocker named Adam (‘Wilson Gonzalez’ Ochsenknecht) that she has an unhealthy crush on. Unfortunately for Tina, an aggressive negress also has a crush on Adam, but all of the teens seem to be too lost and immature to main a serious relationship and are barely even able to communicate with one another in any meaningful way, hence their love of mindless rave parties. Unfortunately, Tina will soon have much more serious and morbid things on her mind. Indeed, upon taking a piss in the middle of a street and flashing her teenage twat, Tina becomes horrified when the fetus she saw from school suddenly moves though a bush after a trail of her urine hits the creature. Somewhat predictably, things only get weirder from there, as Tina is soon plowed down by a very fast sportscar car while she is picking up a necklace with an occult-like medallion that she dropped in the middle of the street. Considering Tina should have been killed but is depicted in the next scene merely lying in the street as if she got too drunk and passed out, the film only gets more convoluted from there as Tina’s mind begins to deteriorate and the fine line between reality and nightmare is ripped to shreds.  From there, Tina finds herself increasingly haunted by the mutant fetus, who she eventually becomes extremely close to in a truly transcendental way.

 A girl from a nice banal bourgeois home with loving but seemingly clueless parents, Tina, not unlike many people her age, naturally feels alienated, but it is only when the grotesque fetus enters her life that she truly comes to understand what it really means to be alone in the world. Indeed, somewhat ironically, Tina even seems detached and alienated at a rave party—a celebration of mindless extroversion that is supposed to bring people ‘together’—but when she begins seeing a tiny monster that no one else can see that she is forced to confront her own loneliness and, in the process, eventually obtains self-acceptance, self-esteem, and personal sovereignty. The first time that Tina is confronted face-to-face with the ambiguously friendly fetus after the incident at the party, she is horrified that he has raided her fridge and has made a nasty mess on the kitchen floor. As a result of talking to her psychiatrist, who inspired her to attempt to communicate with the strange creature, Tina asks it, “What do you want from me?” and it responds by non-verbally offering her an egg, but she bitches, “No, I don’t want an egg. They give me a rash. All over. Do you understand?,” in an arguably symbolic scene of dialogue that may or may not hint at the protagonist’s lack of suitability for motherhood and overall warped female instincts.  Notably, Tina’s friends call when she is in the company of the fetus and she attempts to show them it when they arrive at her house, but the little monster is gone so she opts to smoke some blunts and take bong rips with her completely and utterly worthless friends. As time passes, the fetus becomes Tina’s virtual hermetic roommate and the only living being that sees the seemingly forlorn heroine for who she really is. When the fetus opts to use a razor on his arm and accidentally cuts himself, Tina immediately acquires the same exact wound on the same exact area of her body, thus hinting the two have a deep otherworldly connection and possibly that they are even the same person. Indeed, as the film progresses, it becomes more and more apparent that the fetus is Tina’s sort of Jungian shadow (aka ‘shadow aspect’) and the grotesque bodily version of her entire collective unconscious.  Needless to say, it is only a matter of time before Tina completely embraces the fetus and succumbs to the darker elements of her unconscious.

 When her bossy busybody father busts into her room and finds her sleeping with the fetus, Tina realizes that other people can actually also see her little buddy, though they do not take too kindly to him. Indeed, Tina’s father stabs the fetus with a rod and then a medical crew shows up and has them both tranquilized. From there, the creature is seemingly imprisoned in a hospital and has unexplained experiments done on it.  Meanwhile, Tina's parents consider having her institutionalized.  When Tina returns to school after a long unexplained absence, she is berated by her somewhat sympathetic blonde American teacher (Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth in a rare acting role) for missing a month and half of class. During class, Tina is exposed to 18th-century English poet William Blake’s ‘prophetic books,’ which are a series of lengthy, interrelated poetic works drawing upon Blake's own personal mythology. Notably, part of the poem reads, “A shriek ran thro’ Eternity, And a paralytic stroke, At the birth of the Human shadow,” thus alluding to the fetus being Tina’s shadow. Eventually, Tina totally snaps late one night, physically transforms herself into a sort of strong and super sassy neo-gothic supervillainous, steals her parents’ car, and then sneaks into a hospital to free her fetus friend. In Jungian terms, Tina seems to have achieved total ‘individuation’ as she has achieved a complete transformation, fully embraced the fetus and, in turn, her own dark unconscious self. Coming full circle, the film concludes at Tina’s eighteenth birthday party where she unexpectedly arrives and horrifies her friends by introducing both her fetus friend and new (and seemingly true) self. Luckily, Adam is happy to see Tina and tells her, “You look great.” Naturally, the two kiss, but things get ugly from there, as Tina's friends seem somewhat perturbed by her new sense of self-confidence and grotesque gargoyle-like friend. Indeed, Tina’s friends try to prevent her from touching the fetus, but she proudly cradles the creature like a baby and even kisses it while they look on in horror and abject disgust. Unfortunately, Tina’s parents eventually crash the party and her absurdly anally retentive father seemingly kills the fetus. Notably, the fetus is also depicted being run over with a car just like Tina was at the beginning of the film. In the end, Tina is depicted lying in the backseat of a sportscar while the fetus drives in what is indubitably a symbolic scene that underscores the fact that the heroine’s unconscious has completely taken over. 

 Depicting a morally inverted world where the protagonist’s father is such a petty politically correct pussy that he is actually offended by the word “freak” and even complains “’Freak’ is stupid and derogatory,” yet he does not concern himself with real serious problems and seems to have no clue that his daughter is a hedonistic whore that loves popping pills, pissing in public, and playing hard to get with pudgy-faced stoners, Der Nachtmahr ultimately unwittingly reveals, at least to some extent, how Germany has become so valueless, suicidal, and nihilistic that a good percentage of its populous welcomes the flooding of their once-great-nation with low IQ untermensch invaders from the third world. In fact, the heroine of the film seems exactly like the sort of girl that would get gang-raped by these primitively misogynistic Muslim invaders where she to attend a New Year's Eve celebration or take an evening stroll down the wrong Berlin alley.  Of course, being that her parents are weak bourgeois liberals and she friends with a curious clique of multicultural dope fiends that value nothing aside from their own hedonistic self-indulgence, it is easy to see why the heroine was so psychologically feeble that she needed a sort of transcendental intervention that resulted in her more or less abandoning everyone in her life, at least emotionally, for a sensitive fetus that ultimately teaches her the singular joys of early motherhood, among other things.  In that sense, Der Nachtmahr is a shockingly hopeful film with a largely positive message about the importance of true individuality and the bottomless void that is modern youth (anti)culture.  Unfortunately, somehow I think the message of the film will be lost on most teenage girls, but then again, I think the flick is probably the most influential on the subconscious level, which seems to be the director's intent.

 Upon doing some research on auteur Achim Bornhak, I discovered that he is indeed a C.G. Jung fan and even advertises such on his facebook page, though I have to wonder if he sees Der Nachtmahr as depicting the Wotan archetype as personified by an all-too-petite teen with terribly tiny titties. Indeed, unlike all the other characters in the film, heroine Tina, who initially suffers repressed psychic complexes, arguably has the old gods in her reawakened when the fetus enters her life and exposes to her everything about herself that was once hopelessly buried in a toxic cesspool of soul-numbing ecstasy, generic EDM, and erotomania. As Jung once noted regarding the importance of these perennial archetypal “Gods, Demons and Illusions” and their influence on both the conscious and subconscious, “…they exist and function and are born anew with every generation. They have an enormous influence on individual as well as collective life and despite their familiarity they are curiously non-human. This latter characteristic is the reason why they are called Gods and Demons in the past and why they are understood in our ‘scientific’ age as the psychical manifestations of the instincts, in as much as they represent habitual and universally occurring attitudes and thought forms. They are the basic forms, but not the manifest, personified or otherwise concretised images. They have a high degree of autonomy, which does not disappear, when the manifest images change.”

While one could argue that National Socialism was a reemergence of the repressed Germanic god Wotan, the fetus in Bornhak's film makes for an even more interesting archetype representing Aryan fertility, as if it an expression of repressed maternity in an ungodly age of philosemitic Americanism, abortion-on-demand feminism, neo-liberalism, and cultural Marxisism where motherhood is frowned upon and seen as anachronistic and unprogressive while soulless sexual promiscuity and miscegenation seen as has ‘hip’ and ‘progressive.’ Undoubtedly, the Teutonic collective unconscious is sick and repressed and heroine Tina’s arguable involuntary date with ancestral memory is a blessing in disguise. Needless to say, it is only natural and exceedingly fitting that the heroine’s nemesis is a nasty negress who, as a racial alien, naturally lacks the genetic capacity for encountering such archetypes (after all, were goofy kraut turd Wilson Gonzalez to have a child with a negress, it would indubitably be more horrifying than the fetus in the film, but I digress).  Interestingly, the grotesque fetus in Der Nachtmahr looks like it could have been one of the ghouls featured in Franz von Stuck's classic 1889 painting ‘Wild Chase,’ which is notable for featuring a prophetic Hitler-esque Wotan on horseback.

Notably, in an interview with the American Film Institute, auteur Bornhak revealed that he always intended Der Nachtmahr to be a film that was open to interpretation, stating, “There is a lot of guessing and discussing what the creature stands for, or what it symbolizes. Some say it’s an incarnation of a symbol of bulimia (fat belly, Tina throws up, it is constantly eating, Tina is feeding him junk food, etc.); some others see the fear of an abortion or an involuntary pregnancy. Some think it represents Hades, the god who guides the living to the realm of the dead. It was always important to me to keep the interpretation open to the audience so everybody could come up with their own interpretation. For me, the creature was always something that appears between two different worlds. He is like a doorman, like a Fata Morgana that appears in the space between the ground and hot air. He never sleeps but at the same time he never seems to be really awake.” Of course, as Jung revealed in regard to his belief that Friedrich Nietzsche was under the subconscious influence of Wotan despite his lack of familiarity with Wotan, “Nietzsche‘s case is certainly a peculiar one. He had no knowledge of Germanic literature; he discovered the “cultural Philistine”; and the announcement that “God is dead” led to Zarathustra’s meeting with an unknown god in unexpected form, who approached him sometimes as an enemy and sometimes disguised as Zarathustra himself. Zarathustra, too, was a soothsayer, a magician, and the storm-wind...”  Personally, I like to think that Bornhak had a sort of atavistic awakening and discovered the old gods while assembling Der Nachtmahr.

 While I am more than just a little bit pessimistic, especially since the nation is flooded with hostile Islamic hordes, Der Nachtmahr hints at a sort of cool atavistic reawakening in Deutschland that actually appeals to young people.  Undoubtedly, Till Kleinert's Cowboy (2008) and especially Der Samurai (2014) accomplished something similar, albeit in a sort of gay Männerbünde fashion. At the very least, these relatively idiosyncratic Teutonic neo-romantic films represent a healthy change of pace in German cinema and are certainly a major improvement over the spiritually sick films of the so-called ‘Berliner Schule,’ which is a movement that gives a good indication of the sort of metaphysical malaise, collective social alienation, racial and cultural deracination, and overall self-loathing that has led to so many Germans being completely happy with their nation being overrun by brown barbarians that are not exactly too fond of static and plotless kraut art cinema.  Surely, unlike the German era fantasy films of German-born homo Hebrew Roland Emmerich—a master hack that was once nicknamed ‘Swabian Spielberg’ due to the Schwaben region around his native Stuttgart and his fetish for making childish generic genre garbage—most notably Joey (1985) aka Ghost Chase, Der Nachtmahr is a consistently foreboding flick with a certain unmistakable Teutonic flavor, albeit a somewhat mongrelized one that reminds the viewer of S.Spieberg's pernicious international influence.  Undoubtedly, Spielberg's morally dubious, spiritually retarded, and sexually autistic films have played an imperative role in creating the sort of decidedly dull and deracinated infantile teens depicted in Bornhak's film.  While Der Nachtmahr might be vaguely Spielbergian in terms of cute yet grotesquely friendly monster, the film is, on closer inspection, ultimately as traditionally Teutonic as the strange tales of H.H. Ewers, Expressionistic poetry of Gottfried Benn, the classic West German fantasy flick Die unendliche Geschichte (1984) aka The NeverEnding Story directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and even the dark folklore of Brothers Grimm. Indeed, Bornhak might not be the next Hans-Jürgen Syberberg or even Niklaus Schilling, but he does have enough artistic prowess and originality that he managed to sire a genuinely hypnotic and enthralling piece of neo-romantic cinema that involves teenage girls barfing and pissing in the streets, which is certainly no small accomplishment.

-Ty E

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