Noctem (2003)

NoctemCoverOkay, I had absolutely no idea that I needed another Night Of The Living Dead movie, but you know, made in Germany, until I watched a bunch of characters boarding up a farmhouse and shouting in that hideously abrasive language while distinctly somber Teutonic tunes played in the background.

Noctem looks much better than its meager budget, but the meager bit of it that passes for originality isn’t very good and manages to slather the film in a slimy coat of self-important philosophical and religious musings that made me think these zombies weren’t really operating at full tilt since Amy and Kusey had time to debate the Biblical implications of their situation.

Kusey runs the local video store and in between the piles of previously viewed copies of Big Mamma’s House on sale for three Euros, he finds Amy in pool of her own blood, a victim not of the zombies, but of her own botched suicide attempt!

Amy is instantly unlikeable since she had the prologue to the movie all to herself and used it to solemnly intone about living a life destined to extinction and dreams and other stuff. It was typical Eurotrash posturing when she should have been out in a Panzer with an assault weapon mowing down gangs of rotting bastards with a boyfriend that looked more like Dolph Lundgren instead of Kusey, who looked like some skinny dark-haired video store clerk.

The movie also doesn’t get off to the sturdiest of starts when after Kusey gets Amy bandaged up, they get attacked by a zombie in the video store and Amy fights back by throwing videos at it! Even better than that was when Kusey fought one of the zombies off with a cardboard stand-up of Hannibal Lechter!

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The interesting part of this entire sequence is that it’s played completely straight. These two are fighting for their very lives (at least when they aren’t trying to kill themselves) and just using whatever is nearby to buy some time. They definitely don’t find this to be a laughing matter. The audience on the other hand may be a different story.

They make their escape and find themselves in a “borrowed” Benz and get out of the infested city. Like most couples, the true test of their relationship is once they’re stuck on a long car ride with one another. So it is that Kusey and Amy are no more than five minutes into their trip when they have their first blow up.

Kusey notices some zombies wandering across the street, so he slows down and waits for them to get across before continuing on his way. Amy is outraged that he stopped and you can sort of see her point. Why give these freaks a chance to sneak up on your car? But then again, they were in a crosswalk.

They manage to put these differences behind them once they run out of gas out in the middle of nowhere. Stranded and without much in the way of a plan, they meet up with a stranger with long hair and who speaks rather cryptically about the difficult journey they have ahead of them.

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He also knows Amy’s name and touches the wounds on her wrists saying that he can’t heal them, but can take the pain away. Once they are ready to go, the stranger says that he cannot go with them. The stranger departs, leaving them to wonder just who he was.

Much later in the film, Amy would see that the wounds on her wrists had completely healed, as if by some sort of miracle. That’s right folks! Noctem features a very special cameo appearance by the Redeemer himself!

If you think that once Jesus wraps up his gig with the movie that that was it for the off-beat religious aspects of this one, then you’ll be unpleasantly surprised to find that Kusey gets himself trapped in a basement with a Bible-toting autistic guy left behind by his family.

There’s also more prattle from Amy where she reads passages from the Bible about the apocalypse and Judgment Day and runs that same old song about how the zombie attacks are because of how we treated the world and it’s God’s or nature’s revenge for our hubris.

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Why are all these movies intent on running us down for our hubris? Maybe the real hubris is thinking your cruddy little zombie movie has some greater meaning than your college buddy being able to show off the special effects skills he learned at some summer course at film school.

Slow in spots with the zombie action not as prevalent as expected, Noctem‘s story doesn’t really have anything new to add to the zombie genre: for unknowns reasons the dead walk, crave human flesh and regular people have to struggle to survive.

The addition of the religious element is ill-advised as it merely consists of that one appearance by Jesus and Amy becoming increasingly obsessed with it as the movie progresses. The fact that everyone else pooh-poohs it and nothing relating to it is resolved either way only serves to emphasize it isn’t really as important as the filmmakers want to pretend it is.

Completely humorless and downbeat with sufficient gore (see a kid torn in half!) to be credible, it does have decent production values that compares favorably with other zombie flicks of the period. But should you watch it? WWJD?

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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