Of all the films I saw at 2014’s FrightFest it was Till Kleinert’s The Samurai that stayed with me the longest and finally the whole world has a chance to experience this haunting nightmarish horror thriller with its sensational twin performances from leads Michel Diercks and Pit Bukowski.
Diercks plays Jakob a provincial policeman in a very small hamlet set deep in the German woodland. Unassuming and less than authoritarian the biggest problems Jakob faces are trying to catch a wolf that has been upsetting the locals however when he receives a mysterious package addressed to the Lone Wolf and an unsettling phone call claiming the parcel things take a turn for the surreal and scary.
Intrigued Jakob heads out delivering the package which contains a samurai sword to a gaunt wild eyed man in a wedding dress (Pit Bukowski) who entices the officer on a chaotic chase as he carves a path of destruction both physical and emotional through the town.
Challenging Jakob at every turn to confront not only the cryptic violent samurai who seems devoid of motive and reason but also his own fears and identity the story that unfolds is part fairy tale, part thriller, part nightmare and all together intensely engaging.
Like the chaotic cat and mouse game the two central characters are caught in Kleinert crafts a mystifying mix of real and surreal in both the landscape and the narrative making sure to never lead the audience to a definite conclusion as to the motives and themes behind the movie and its characters, allowing them to make their own decision on the meanings behind this fantastical and frightening film.
Reminiscent of David Lynch, and consciously so, in the blend of dreamlike imagery, erotic elements, explosive extremes of violence and the disruption of quiet everyday life by turmoil and destruction The Samurai is skillfully directed and scripted marking Kleinert as an exciting new talent filled with creative potential.
The lynch pin of the entire movie however is the pairing of Michel Diercks and Pit Bukowski and their amazing and disparately individual turns.
Brimming with boyish innocence Jakob could have been a trite heroic cliché but Diercks avoids falling into that trap portraying the terrible inner turmoil he seemingly suffers through and giving a shockingly complex performance for someone straight out of acting school.
Best of all is Pit Bukowski who evokes Rutger Hauer in his heyday throbbing with insane intensity as an otherworldly god of chaos. Wielding a samurai sword and wearing a white wedding dress he creates an instantly iconic character with his martial arts prowess, animalistic physicality and wild unpredictable energy that makes you think he could kiss you or kill you at any moment.
An intensely unconventional horror thriller made all the better by the hugely talented trio of Kleinert, Diercks and Bukowski all of whom should be snapped up by Hollywood immediately once seen The Samurai is hard to forget and moments and meanings will drift in and out of your consciousness for months after you have watched it.
Read our interview with Till Kleinert, Michel Diercks and Pit Bukowski right HERE