Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flashback AKA Mörderische Ferien AKA Murderous Vacation – German Horror Done Right

Runtime: 95 minutes
Release Date: April 6, 2000
Rating: R
Director: Michael Karen

Foreign horror films have a tendency to make me sit up and wonder what the hell is wrong with American horror directors. "Flashback," which also goes by several other names, is one of those films.

The film opens up with scenes of a young girl named Jeanette spending time with her parents. While everything seems normal, a man breaks into the house and eventually murders both of her parents in front of her. "Flashback" then jumps several years into the future. After spending years in an institution, Jeanette is now a young woman, and her doctor thinks that she is ready to live outside the institution walls. He finds her a job working with a friend's step-children and teaching them French.

From the moment that Jeanette arrives at their house, something seems odd. All three of the "children" are actually close to her age, and none of them seem particularly excited about meeting her. She has to walk around the entire house just to find someone who can let her in, and by the time she does, someone steals her bags off the front porch. Lissy, Melissa, and Leon keep leaving her at home to go out and party, and they frequently mention their dislike of their stepfather.

Jeannette also has to deal with the housekeeper, who thinks that she needs to rule them all with an iron fist. She doesn't approve of Jeannette for the way she dresses, the fact that she actually goes into town with her charges, and her blossoming relationship with Leon. That relationship takes Jeannette by surprise, and it quickly becomes clear that she never really dated anyone before. After one particular party at the house, Jeannette starts suffering flashbacks of what happened to her family. The more she works with the teens and the closer she grows to Leon, the more it becomes clear that there is something wrong.

"Flashback" is an excellent movie because it offers several different possible explanations for what's going on, and you won't know exactly what happened until the very end. Is the man who killed her parents back for vengeance? Does the unseen step-father have something to do with the events? Is Jeannette the crazy one? Are the kids involved? This is the kind of film where I kept thinking that I knew what was going on, but then there was another twist, and I was wrong. It's also the type of film where you actually need to pay attention or you might miss out on something special.

I was so excited about seeing this movie that I actually recommended it to multiple people. I even spoiled it for my best friend by telling him the whole plot and the ending because I didn't see it coming. I had the chance to watch the film on Netflix, which thankfully provided a dubbed version (unlike "Battle Royale 2," which I will probably never watch because I seldom have time to sit down and watch a film with subtitles), but the site recently took the film down. If you get a chance to watch it, please do.

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