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Walter is a professional killer and has messed up a job. He has to leave the city and takes up an offer of crime boss Berger to protect Berger's house in a remote region of the Carpathian Mountains. At his side: old friend Mickey. By accident Berger's young wife Sybille is killed and Walter and Mickey hide her body because they fear Berger's vengeance. What seemed to be a nice holiday trip with little work for Walter and Mickey soon becomes a fight for survival for all parties involved.
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1. All violence in the movie always also contains humor...in a way that is dry/morbid to the extreme. And there is a lot of violence...so there is a lot of humor. It's perfect.
2. The underlying story is about a hired killer going through mid-life crisis...which is of course morbidly funny. But it's also relatable...in that any middle-aged person can watch the movie and say, "Even a hired killer experiences this tragic moment in life." But then the man experiencing mid-life crisis, the trained killer, survives and is essentially "reborn" into the world as a pest-control guy in a tropical location. His dream of moving to a tropical/sunny location comes true. It is the most sublime outcome/ending possible. It's really beautiful. This most depressed, middle-aged man has a smile on his face at the end.
3. The actors. Every person acting in this film is amazing. I would like to say that one of them is the best, but no, they are all the best.
4. The scenery. The beautiful trees with snow...the amazing giant building where most of the film takes place...it's perfect. The scenery of this movie really captured my heart and transported me.
I love movies, and this one is hilarious, beautiful, and amazing in so many ways. Why this movie is not way more popular than it is...is baffling to me. I love this movie. It will probably always be my favorite.
I did not know any of these actors, who I think are all German. The dialog is in German but the subtitling in English is excellently readable and true to the script (interestingly, having studied only 2 years of German, especially with the accompanying English subtitles I could understand much of the original dialog, which was fun).
The main character is a hit-man who’s getting somewhat older for the business (he looks to be early 40’s). As the film opens, he completes a job in a men’s bathroom—but after having shot the target, he hears the flushing of a toilet and suddenly realizes there was someone in a stall. The man exits, sees him with the gun, and…he feels he has no choice but to shoot him to avoid any witnesses. Unfortunately this unintended victim was a somewhat-known singer, the killings make headline news, and the police are very motivated to find the perpetrator.
His boss tells him, basically, that clients are nervous, and he has no choice but to cut him loose for a while, until the heat dies down sufficiently. He suggests a vacation. Lie on the beach in Mexico or something. Uhh—Walter (Jurgen Rissmann) doesn’t have the money to take a vacation like that. The boss thinks a moment and tells him he has a possible job out of the area that would pay well. A job in the mountains—why it's practically a vacation in itself—you just have to guard a house. You can build snowmen!
The guy originally offered the job doesn’t want it “because I’m a FAMILY MAN—I can’t be gone for months like that out of the country!
I should mention Walter/Jurgen Rissman was perfect for this part (as were all of the actors, but particularly him). He speaks very little. He has a common-looking face. He looks large enough to have been formidable when younger, but getting a little flabby now. Perfect for an ageing hit man.
So he drives his old car to the job but this mansion is so out-of-the-way in the Carpathian mountains that eventually the car gets stuck in the snow, and he has to hike the rest of the way on foot. Along the way he meets a younger, sometime partner Micky (Thomas Wodianka) and learns that they’ve both been assigned the job.
They arrive at the mansion and it is HUGE. But it looks like it’s been dropped several miles off the nearest good road. Knock on the door—an obnoxious if good-looking girl answers (Sibylle, played by Eva-Katrin Hermann), says “Berger isn’t home-he’s off on a hunting trip” and slams the door—leaving them looking flabbergasted and a bit puzzled as to what to do next. After all, they can’t just sit on the doorstep all night and freeze to death…but then she unlocks the door and lets them in. She curtly announces they can have the living room, kitchen and guest bedroom, but the rest of the house is off limits. Shortly after, she heads to the nearest town to do some clothes shopping, bitching about what a long drive it is to GET to a decent town…
Mickey, the younger one, is too much the risk taker and rule-breaker. He immediately wants to search the whole house, to see what’s up. Walter, all the while trying to talk him out of it, nevertheless follows along. This house-searching leads to very serious problems later. However among other things, they find what looks like a drug lab (Mickey assumes Sibylle’s) in the basement, a heated swimming-pool, sexy photos of Sibylle apparently taken by their employer Berger, and room after room after room, even an attic filled with unused furniture.
Eventually Berger returns—it really WAS a hunting trip—along with his right-hand man Kazik (Walera Kanitschtscheff) who really does look the part of a killer. In one of his better moods, Berger briefly explains he set up here because there’s virtually no competition. He started with some simple drug selling, some prostitution—but now he has big new, Donald-Trump-like plans: a world-class hotel, a casino, a nightclub (maybe some prostitution on the side?), ski lodge—he could be worth a billion or more! But he wants them guarding the house when he’s not around because…well, otherwise it would be empty, or only Sibylle would be there, and the locals, sparse though they may be, are not trustworthy. And this is the CARPATHIANS….sort of the location of the original vampire story…and whether you are superstitious or not, he considers the locals potentially dangerous….
From here I can’t go further into the plot without ruining it, but it did keep me guessing how it was going to turn out, until the end of the film. PS: it was actually filmed in the Black Forest in Germany. That posed some problems, as the Black Forest is fairly well-populated, but they did find a GREAT MANSION-LOOKING PLACE for filming: originally it was a SANITARIUM; now it is empty, which made for a perfect set!
I am happy to report it’s less a horror story than a suspense story, all of whose characters are potentially murderous, if slightly off-kilter, each in their own unique way. I found it unusual and interesting. It should rate an R primarily for the violence, and secondarily the language; sexuality does not play a major role. I found this a good suspense story.
Human frailty, human error, humor and action combine to tell a story of bad choices, ignorance, stupidity, naive self-indulgence and unhappy endings, in which we recognize people we know.
Und, actung! You vil enjoy it!