(Review originally written at 15 September 2008)

Kind of funny how all great directors seemed to have started of their careers with some bad movies, that no one ever remembers now days. Micheal Mann is of course a director who is best known for his movies such as "Heat", "Collateral" and "The Insider".

It's not like this movie is horrible but it's just a bit weird and different from other genre movies. It's really not done in a typical thriller/horror style and Michael Mann seemed to have more eye for the visuals at the time rather than for its script, which he also wrote himself by the way and based it on a novel by F. Paul Wilson. The story is told in a typical Michael Mann way, which means that its slow and it takes its time to set up things. This might work for his political and action thrillers but for this horror movie it doesn't work out too well. The story doesn't really flow well and it looks to me as if this movie was heavily cut down in its running time and some sequences are entirely missing from the final print. Some of the editing within this movie was also just completely horrible. Michael Mann knowing there should also be a 3 hour version of this movie floating around somewhere, which is perhaps better as well than this 96 minutes version.

It also seemed pretty weird to me that the story focuses on a group of German soldiers during WW II. Seems redundant and odd to me that the movie focuses on the 'bad guys' of WW II and also that you are supposedly should care about them. The movie tries out some tricks to let it work out but in the long run it just didn't seemed like the most logic choice to me.

It's a pretty looking movie though. Since Michael Mann had more eye for the visuals of the movie, the movie is filled with some beautiful looking sequences, despite some far from convincing looking early special effects.

For a thriller/horror movie it is simply too lacking. The movie does however has some good thriller and horror like moments but the movie is perhaps a bit too supernatural orientated, which makes the movie seem more odd and mysterious and perhaps even more like a science-fiction movie at times than a scary one. You never really quite understand what is happening and what all those mysterious events in the movie are all about.

Still amazing when you look at the cast list, how none of the actors within this movie were any big or well known ones at the time but grew out to be Hollywood celebrities later in their careers. Scott Glenn, Ian McKellen and Gabriel Byrne all weren't that well known actors yet at the time and they hadn't worked on many big productions yet. It also features Jürgen Prochnow in one of his earliest English speaking roles. He had only finished doing "Das Boot" 2 years prior to this movie. So you can't accuses this movie of bad casting, although it also is obvious that the actors weren't that experienced at the time and none of them exactly gives away the best performance out of their career. Also none of the characters really ever work out within the movie, mostly due to the fact that the story just doesn't flow very well.

It was a movie that still definitely seemed to have potential and its source materials seems to be good and interesting enough but Michael Mann's style of directing just didn't seemed right for this movie and prevented it from ever really truly working out as a genre movie. It still is a somewhat interesting viewing though.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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