20th Jun2018

‘Die Zombiejager’ Review

by Philip Rogers

Stars: Martin Brisshäll, Nick Holmquist, Christian van Caine, Margareta Strand, Erich Silva, Aldo Cunei, Mads Koudal, Yohanna Idha, Jonas Lübeck, Helena Karlsson, Andreas Andersson, Maud Sjögren, Hyse Gashi | Written by Jonas Wolcher, Petter Hörberg | Directed by Jonas Wolcher


When an epidemic outbreak occurs in Gothenburg, Sweden, the police are unable to control the situation as those infected are turned into blood thirsty zombies. With the numbers continuing to rise they barricade off the city and enlist the help of a specialist team of zombie hunters from Germany to get the city back under control. As the specialist team enter the abandoned streets of Gothenburg, they soon learn that the zombies are not the only ones inside the city. A notorious Italian assassin, a local reporter with her cameraman and an unknown sinister force who is behind the zombie epidemic.

Die Zombiejäger is a brilliantly entertaining action-horror, which despite the budget moves at a breakneck pace, nonstop action and an eccentric tongue and cheek humour. It is an impressive first the feature debut film from writer-director Jonas Wolcher who was not short of ideas. The creativity and blood splattering violence help the film exceed the modest budget with its unique independent stylings reminding me of Peter Jacksons debut feature Bad Taste (1985). It is easy to see why Die Zombiejäger has developed such a cult following since its original release and with the film reputation of the film growing through word of mouth it is already recognised as one of Sweden’s most commercially successful independent films.

The film takes a different approach to the zombie genre, which includes the uniqueness characteristics of the zombie hunters which makes the characters so memorable. Although there is no designated leader to the group Nick Holmquist seems to take a natural lead as Dieter Höss. Dressed in his pin striped suit with a red mohawk he has an edgy industrial punk look, even though he has a more laid-back and carefree attitude. We can see this when he is on the phone during a gunfight when they are dealing with a horde of vicious zombies or in an even more dangerous situation when he insults his girlfriend Ewa Weiss (Margareta Strand).

Martin Brisshäll plays Heinrich Rummel who is the second hunter. Styled with a more metal rock look with his leather jacket and sun glasses he reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator series, especially when he got hold of a shot gun. I was half expecting him to quote the words “I’ll be back” at some point during the film. When it comes to shooting Heinrich is not exactly shy when it comes to shooting as he unloads several magazines in quick succession into the oncoming zombies, often armed with a gun in each hand. Yet one of my favourite moments occurs when he finds his gun has run out of ammo. With a zombie upon him at close range he has no choice but to improvise with the tools in hand, as he slams the magazine clip of the gun into the zombie’s head. With the zombie now incapacitated from the impact, he releases the clip from the gun before casually reloading.

The final hunter is Christian van Caine who is easily recognisable as Ivo Reinharth because he looks like a character from a Manga cartoon with his red Karategi. Adding a unique element to the team Ivo is the martial artist who mainly fights using his wooden staff and metal ninja stars, although he later proves he can be as lethal with a gun. He brings a different skillset to the team and proves himself to be just as effective, especially when it comes to close combat.

The film has some good practical effects, with plenty of violence and gore as you would expect from a zombie horror, however one of the most disturbing scenes of violence takes place away from the hordes of gut munchie zombies. In one of the most impressive and realistic effects we get an up close and personal shot as someone’s face as it is surgically removed. In rather gruesome act we watch as the knife gradually cuts beneath the skin, before the face is slowly peeled away. This is definitely one of the many memorable moments in the film thanks to the realistic execution.

In addition to the action and the violence, another element which makes the film stand out so well is the soundtrack. With a mixture of industrial, electro and metal the music always seems to fit perfectly with the action. The electronic title song in particular works perfectly to encapsulate the energy of the what the film is trying to achieve.

Writer-director Jonas Wolcher is often referred to as ‘The Creator of new Swedish Cinema’ because of the way in which he continues to develop and market the new wave of independent films from Swedish filmmakers. Die Zombiejäger is a great place to start with Swedish horror or independent horror in general and is a brilliant example of what can be achieve on a modest budget and limited resource. As with a lot of independent films, it isn’t perfect and was never going to win any Oscars for the acting, but thanks to the creative energy, twisted humour and gory violence it is easy to overlook some of the films shortfalls.

Die Zombiejäger is an action-horror which knows the target audience which it has been created for and is best enjoyed if you prepared to sit back, switch off and just enjoy the ride.


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