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STUDIO: Phase 4 Films
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
• deleted scenes
Felicity ruins a perfectly good cannibal romance.
Keri Russell, Thomas Kretschmann, Thomas Huber
Director: Martin Weisz
Writer: T.S. Faull
Katie (Keri Russell) is an American student in Germany studying criminology. The topic of her thesis is that of a local cannibal Oliver Hartwin (Thomas Kretschmann), and his willing victim, Simon Grombeck (Thomas Huber). The two men met on-line and Grombeck agreed to let Hartwin kill and eat him. The police didn’t really care if it was consensual and Hartwin wound up in prison. As Katie digs deeper into the case, trying to understand what drove two men to such a moment, we see the lives of Hartwin and Grombeck leading up to their faithful dinner date.
Adventures in poor eye make-up decisions, with Keri Russell.
Grimm Love really has no business being part of this series. For one thing, it isn’t a horror movie. It has touches on what falls within the fuzzy boundaries of “torture porn,” but contextually the scenes play miles away from the subgenre. More importantly, though, Grimm Love is a very good film. Shockingly good actually. Lumping it in with this company seems unfair, but I suppose the filmmakers had this coming when they pointlessly handicapped their film with a lame horror-thriller-esque framework. Which is tragic, because buried within this framework is a potentially great movie. And I mean that: a great movie. Alas, alack, woe is us.
Grimm Love is two different movies. One great. One suck. We’ve got the story of Keri Russell trying to understand Hartwin and Grombeck, and then the story of the two men themselves. Russell is supposed to be our window into the second film, providing context and presumably some kind of interesting parallel that deepens the film’s themes and gives the entire work a different hook. This is what I was expecting at least. I thought Russell would somehow get involved in Hartwin’s life or the world of fetish cannibalism we get a glimpse of in the film (this film is based on the real-life case of Armin Meiwes). In fact, when Russell visits Hartwin’s home we learn that he is to be released from prison soon. Truthfully, I would’ve thought it was stupid if the film ended with Russell, like Grombeck, agreeing to let Hartwin eat her, but at least that would have provided a reason for the storytelling device using her. But there is no great pay-off with Russell’s character, no themes are deepened, no new light shed. As is, she serves no purpose other than taking screen-time away from Hartwin and Grombeck.
Uh oh. Putting
your hands up on the wall while showering is the universal sign in
movieland that you’re having a bad day. Poor gal. I’m sorry I said
such mean things about you.
This possibly might not have bothered me so much if the Hartwin/Grombeck film-within-a-film weren’t so excellent. I don’t know why Martin Weisz and T.S. Faull felt they needed the Russell present-day framework to contextualize the brilliant Hartwin and Grombeck material they had. It seems like they were simply afraid, too nervous to tell the story by itself. They clearly wanted to distance themselves from the characters, maybe thinking they needed a less morally questionable protagonist. Fucking shame. Cause that’s where the magic was at. They could have produced a Cronenbergian mini-masterpiece that everyone would be talking about right now, instead of merely rounding out a slot on Fangoria’s parade of genre turds, where I’m left to try and convince you to rent the damned thing. Sigh.
Thomas Kretschmann and Thomas Huber are fantastic here. We follow both men from their childhood into adulthood, as the film offers up possibilities (though never forceful explanations) of how each man found himself fucked up in such a unique way.
That dough boy was very happy about his big boner… until he looked to his left.
Hartwin’s friendless childhood saw him develop of fetish for eating peculiar things, like the family dog. Eventually humans were the logical conclusion to his fetish. Dude isn’t a murderer. He just wants to eat someone, and he wants them to be cool with it. He posts an ad on an on-line cannibal forum for a willing victim. He finds a victim, but sadly learns that most of the people in the forum view cannibalism as kinky play-acting. The victim starts to cry when he realizes Hartwin is serious. Disheartened, Hartwin lets the guy go, of course. This is not some horrored-up version of the Armin Meiwes case, where Hartwin goes around murdering and eating tons of people.
Grombeck has a scarring childhood moment when he learns from a family relative that his mother committed suicide when she found Grombeck partaking in a homosexual act with a friend. Just what every gay boy needs for his developing sense of self-worth. As an adult Grombeck seems like a normal, relatively happy homosexual man. He’s in a wonderful relationship, yet he has a secret desire, a desire he can’t tell his partner about. Grombeck wants another man to bite his penis off. Off.
Seeing the men’s two lives unfold and slowly come together plays like a clandestine romance, almost like a dark fucked up and dead serious Sleepless in Seattle. The scenes where they’re “courting” each other on-line are fantastic. Twisted but almost sweet, seeing how excited these two damaged souls are to have finally found each other.
Grombeck writes: “I want you to bite my thing off.”
Hartwin sends Grombeck a picture of his teeth: “I want you inside me. Here is a picture of my teeth. They are very strong and capable of everything you want.”
That’s right, I just made a Frailty reference.
Once they finally meet in person to do the deed, things get electric. The execution and performances never waver from feeling real, never pushing things just to be offensive or edgy. Hartwin is the one who is nervous; Grombeck is the one who says, “I don’t want you to get scared.” Then we follow them through the, uh, “incident.” Yet, as I said, nothing ever really feels like torture porn, not even the moment when Hartwin tries to bite off Grombeck’s dick and fails. “I couldn’t get all the way through.”
Yes, there is off-camera dick mutilation here. Yes, the two men sit at a dinner table and both eat Grombeck’s cooked dick. But none of this is overly gory, and most surprisingly, none of it is funny either (despite how it sounds when I write it out like that). It is dark, dramatic, and strangely touching. I’m elated just thinking back on the movie. And then… angry again thinking about the Keri Russell portions. They’re just so pointless; they don’t even call to be discussed critically. Worst is that they ultimately make the conclusion of the film a boring thud emotionally, despite all the good will the Hartwin/Grombeck portions earned. Grrr.
I highly recommend checking this film out, though I wish there were a way to edit out all of Russell’s scenes.
Picture/sound good. The collection of deleted scenes are almost all featuring Russell, which would seem to indicate I’m not the only one who felt her storyline bogs the film down.
8.7 out of 10
Keri Russell portions
4.9 out of 10
7 out of 10