It could be growing up in a fairly religious environment, but I have always found films about demonic possession to be the scariest of all horror films. The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, and of course Possession are all great examples of the form. German filmmaker Tilman Singer embraces what makes these films great and puts his own retro-modern spin on the possession genre in Luz.
“After several drinks, Nora has Dr. Rossini right where she wants him.”
Luz Carrara is a Chilean cab driver living in Germany. She arrives at a police station after suffering an accident in which she flew from her cab after picking up an old schoolmate, Nora Vanderkurt (Julia Riedler). Meanwhile, someone who appears to be Nora is in a bar, chatting up police psychologist Dr. Rossini (Jan Bluthardt). She regales him of the strange tales of her Chilean Catholic school days with Luz and pregnant classmate, Margarita (Lilli Lorenz). After several drinks, Nora has Dr. Rossini right where she wants him. Dr. Rossini returns to the police station, not quite himself, to interview Luz about what happened to her that evening under hypnosis. What happens next is an entire demonic rehashing of Luz and whatever entity has overtaken Rossini’s past.
Luz is only a little over an hour-long, yet manages to be one of the most compelling subversions of the possession genre I’ve ever seen. The imagery, while sparse, is haunting. The score by Simon Waskow calls back to early Cronenberg and Carpenter films. The sets look like something out a Fassbinder film, and the script could have been written by Lars Von Trier on a good day.
“…only a little over an hour-long, yet manages to be one of the most compelling subversions of the possession genre I’ve ever seen.”
This short weird demonic prayer is perhaps the perfect horror film. It’s weird, disorienting, and haunted, just like I imagine a real possession would feel like. That being said, if you are incredibly religious insofar as being a Christian, especially a Catholic, some of the language and imagery will be too much for you. It was almost too much for me, and I thought I’d seen it all when it comes to possession movies.
Luz will undoubtedly be on my end of the year list of best films. I’ll warn you that the pace is a bit slow but definitely worth it. It’s also only the tiniest bit over an hour long. So if your attention span is limited, you’ll survive. This film is weird, scary, and beautiful. Don’t waste another second. Go out and see it as soon as you can!
Luz (2019) Written and Directed by Tilman Singer. Starring Luana Velis, Johannes Benecke, Jan Bluthardt, Lilli Lorenz, Julia Reidler, Nadja Stübiger
10 out of 10 stars