Friday, October 16, 2015

The Fan


   After sticking it out through the last crappy movie I watched, I decided to (hopefully) treat myself with a well reviewed movie this time, a rather obscure cult flick called 'Der Fan'. I didn't know much about this movie when I landed a copy to give it a watch. I read about it in an article which thankfully didn't give much away. I knew that it was a West German horror flick about a teenage fan-girl, Simone, who goes to great lengths to meet a super famous pop star known solely as "R". From knowing only that, you can see how the premise could go in many different directions. Not knowing which one only made the movie all the more suspenseful and intense for me.

  The movie might have Simone fall prey to all kinds of horrible stuff on her pilgrimage to finally meet R. Or if they finally meet he might be a horrible sicko, maybe even a murderer? Or maybe the movie will position her as the nutcase and she'll go psycho on him. Maybe it's none of those? I know which one it is, and if you keep the mystery for yourself this movie will be quite the experience. I won't give it away, but just about everywhere else does. Avoid iMDB, avoid Wikipedia, don't even google it. Just see it. It's a dreamlike movie with a fantastic synth-pop soundtrack. It is a bit slow moving by conventional horror standards, but the pay off is worth it.

  It's hard to talk about this movie without giving the last act away, because it really does all build to a rather intense final 30-40 minutes. I don't want to mislead anyone, this movie moves at a meditative pace. The last act is shocking, but not exciting in the way you'd usually describe the climax of a horror movie. Der Fan is careful, it's methodical, and again very dreamlike. This is all aided by the fact that to some extent, I think anyone can relate to Simone, at least in the beginning. Hero-worship is a powerful thing, and can easily lead into obsession- which, without giving anything away, it certainly does for Simone.

  She's written letters to R, as we hear her thoughts explaining it all to us in voice-overs like she's reading from her diary. It's an effective bit of filmmaking and fits the almost ethereal feel of the movie. Simone is a teenage girl caught up in one long unending fantasy. The longer we watch, the more engrossed we become in her fantasy. She might live in the real world, but she doesn't play by the rules of it. School is something that she might show up to if she wants to kill time, but mostly she skips out and hangs out around the post office, waiting for a reply from R. Eventually, she decides to stop waiting and take action.

  The movie isn't so concerned with details or at least not with sharing them with us.  Simone manages to hitchhike her way to Munich where she finds a TV studio where R is supposed to appear. I doubt it was ever made clear how she knew when and where he'd be, but I could've missed something. Either way the movie is full of little glossed over details like that, yet instead of seeming like flaws or plot holes, they simply contribute to the dreamlike feel of the movie. I will admit, I wasn't quite ready for something with this pace and tone, but my undying love for synth-pop and 80's cinema allowed me to adjust my mindset and let myself get engrossed.

  The movie toys with your concept of time because as Simone is waiting for R's replies, screentime taken up isn't that long, but to her it's an eternity, thus we feel that way too. Even though the movie is only 90 minutes, it felt like three hours. Not that I'm saying that's a bad thing, but it's just an example of how engrossed I was. The movie is fantastic. The cinematography, the music, the acting, all of it. (Except for maybe some of the dubbing. Watch it subbed if you have the option.) The last act solidified the movie as a haunting piece of cinematic horror that I won't soon forget. I know most of this review made it sound like a teen romance drama, but trust me, this movie gets very very dark and disturbing in the last act.

   I will confess, I did check the internet halfway through the movie to make sure I had the right movie and Der Fan was indeed a horror flick, but fear not- it is. The hints and clues about where the movie is going is peppered throughout, and the foreshadowing was very apparent to me, if only in retrospect. Der Fan is a very cool flick, it's out of the way and not something I've ever heard about apart from that article, thus is was a real nice treat. The movie isn't for everyone, but if I've piqued your interest, give it a shot.

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