10th Oct2011

‘Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Roxane Mesquida, Nicholas Ofczarek, Andrea Zogg, Carlos Leal | Written by Michael Steiner, Stefanie Japp | Directed by Michael Steiner

The Sennentuntschi a creature built out of cloth and straw made by shepherds in the Swiss Alps to entertain themselves on the lonely nights alone with only the sheep. She comes alive and gives pleasure, but get onto her wrong side she will wreak vengeance on you making you her victim. This is the basic premise and the myth that Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps is built upon.

Sebastian is the lone police man in a little town, so when a priest hangs himself and a strange woman walks from the mountains it’s a fairly busy day for him. Taking the woman under his wing while he tries to find out her identity he immediately has to deal with the suspicions of the local community; especially a priest who is obsessed the woman is evil and brought by the devil. Sebastian soon finds himself deep into a mystery that will reshape the way he looks at the small town and the people he once trusted. He also finds he has to questions his beliefs in what the strange woman is and why she has suddenly appeared. Is she a Sennentuntschi as people believe or is she a victim in need of his help?

While we watch Sebastian trying to discover the truth of the mystery woman we also see flashbacks of small group of shepherds and a mysterious stranger who while on a drunken binge decide to create a Sennentuntschi. When a woman mysteriously appears after their ritual to create the creature they believe they have actually managed to create one. As they use her as an object for their pleasure and mistreat her we have to question if she is a Sennentuntschi will she get her revenge as is prophesised in the legend?

When Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps first starts the first thing I noticed it was quite like a fairy tale. The cinematography makes it feel like a little dream world cut off from the rest of the world, this fact is, to a point, the truth as many of the incidents that take place only do because of the isolation of the small village and the shepherd’s farm. People go to these places to escape, but are looked at with distrust and suspicion when things go wrong. It’s the type of town you would see in old Hammer Horror movies, if there was an old castle up in the mountains I’m sure they would make up stories of the evil lord living up there sucking the blood of his victims. The use of this isolation and suspicious population is well used to build up this thriller and to confuse the watcher as even at the end we have to question what really the truth is and who was right. Even Sebastian himself doubts what he believed as the story twists again and again to confuse our senses and what we believe we see. Even at the end though we are still left with questions that can’t be answered and this of course is the mark of a good story. I know these sounds like a plot holes but with this movie I’d argue it’s not actually a plot hole but a question of what exactly was seen and what was the truth of the situations we view.

The characters in this movie were all well written in my opinion and the purpose of most was surprising really. I found for example I despised most of the characters in the flashbacks to the shepherds hut and the way they treated the so called Sennentuntschi. To them she was nothing but an object for them to have their way with, this involved even rape and in the end an attempt to kill her. This of course leads to their own demise and is important to the story but in my view they are not the victims but the victim is the Sennentuntschi. This is something you see in more ways that just this as the story progresses. It’s quite interesting that both Sebastian and the Sennentuntschi herself are the victims of the story where it seems that everybody else in the village and mountains are tainted with darkness and paranoia.

Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps is quite a unique movie in its feel and presentation and although in sometimes can feel it’s dragging on is a good movie. Its use of flashbacks throughout the movie can be quite confusing as you are following two storylines but as these conjoin to reveal the truth behind the Sennentuntschi and the truth behind both the events at the farm and in the small village it gets much more easier to follow and we get to fully understand just what happened and why the two stories fit together. While this film is a slow burner and can get confusing with all the flashbacks it’s well worth a watch at least once. I know for me it will be one I will be re-watching soon, if anything to take another view at the ending and see if there are more hidden clues as to what the truth really is.

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