STARRING: LUANA VELIS; JAN BLUTHARDT
DIRECTED BY: TILMAN SINGER
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
Right off the bat, Luz is worthy of multiple viewings. This is a low-budget horror film, but it's one of the coolest horror movies of 2019. Shot on 16mm film, director Tilman Singer is obviously a student of directors such as Dario Argento, Mario Bava or even David Cronenberg, but yet, Luz seems to be a movie by someone looking to create their own path. It is a demonic possession film, where a woman named Luz Carrara (Luana Velis) picks up the wrong fare in her cab, leading to a search for another woman, souls being sucked from bodies, and a constant evil presence in every room. Luz is bound to be a cult classic midnighters movie. Just you wait.
The opening scene of Luz involves a tall gangly man named Dr. Rossini (Johannes Benecke), sitting at a bar, swirling his straw in his drink, he is approached by another woman, someone who seems intent on telling him a story, or maybe she just wants to steal his soul? Either way, it is the start of a chain of this demon, moving from person to person, all in a pursuit of the entity finding it's way into a police station and confronting its interrogators. At a brisk 70-minutes, Luz does not have much more in the plot, other than it is an evil spirit going from person to person. The question, however, is how far this demon will go?
What should be talked about primarily is how successful Tilman Singer is at setting the tone with the tools of lighting and sound design. Luz may look like an independent film to some, and maybe it is the 16mm look that transcends us to an old fashioned feel, but it also has a setting of rooms that look like the 80's Terminator. Unlike Knife + Heart, which was an equally awesome horror film released this year, with a bit more emphasis on the techno, neon color look- a look that has worked in many films before- Luz is drawing from more muted colors of grey, tan, and cream. It is the color pallet that allows for the moments when Dr. Rossini's possessed state to burst out, creating multiple scary, and shocking moments.
Eventually, the demon makes its way to Luz, who finds herself in a police station, interrogated for the murder of a woman. This leads to the narrative bouncing back and forth between the past and present moments, which is why Luz often reminded me of Memento in its storytelling fashion. That's another reason why Luz is worthy of multiple viewings, not just to appreciate it for the style, but also because there will certainly be details that the audience could miss. It's a movie that keeps you uneasy, while inspiring you to watch more movies just like it.
On the surface, Luz is a massive accomplishment for smaller, independent horror filmmaking. Underneath, it is a fantastic first film. Even if one does not love the final results of Luz, there is plenty of reason to be excited for the next movie that Tilman Singer makes. Possession movies may be common place in the horror genre, but making a movie this good, the first time around, isn't just impressive, it's downright freaky.
See Luz at The Music Box Theatre this weekend.
Written by: Leo Brady