As one of the more recent horrors to come out of Germany, The Samurai was one of Frightfest’s standout films for many reasons, whether it be its metaphorical exploration of sexual lycanthropy, its surreal dance with structure of the fairy-tale or it’s bizarre antagonist who resembles a katana wielding, cross dressing Woody Harrelson (Pit Bukowski). The Samurai may have divided audiences at Frightfest due to its mysterious subtext and dream like qualities but as a visual realization of Fight Club esque inner repression and psychological turmoil it absolutely blew me away.
The surface plot followed young police officer Jakob (Michel Diercks), a quiet native who is obsessed with a wolf that is creating havoc on his small – town beat. When a package arrives at his station addressed to ‘lone wolf’ its owner calls one night asking for him to deliver it to a mysterious cabin in the woods in which he discovers a young man in a dress crudely applying lipstick. Opening the package and withdrawing a samurai sword the cross – dressing maniac runs off into the night intent on cutting a bloody swathe through the small town and its inhabitants and only Jakob can stop him.
Although a film about a vengeful samurai wouldn’t get by without a least a few heads rolling – with director Till Kleinert delivering on that front – perhaps the most satisfying element of The Samurai is its openness to interpretation, with the samurai potentially attributed as an alter – ego of Jakob, a manifestation of repressed homosexuality or the angry soul that lurks beneath a timid exterior. The agile, almost feral nature of the character would suggest that the Samurai is intensely psychological phenomena, with the sexual tension and dialogues between Michel Diercks and Pit Bukowski being the most intriguing highlights of the movie. We even receive a quasi romantic dance to an audience of headless corpses at one point, leaving the film firmly grounded in the camps of metaphor and fantasy.
With an enigmatic finale fittingly concluding the relationship between Jakob and his psycho sexual cypher, The Samurai remains as mysterious as it begun, a metaphoric tapestry of violence, seclusion and ignited passion. While its approach may frustrate casual cinema goers, its inventive imagery and incredible performances render The Samurai a beautifully crafted oddity, suggesting Kleinert and his stars are ones to definitely keep an eye on.
Director: Till Kleinert
Writer: Till Kleinert (screenplay)
Stars: Michel Diercks, Pit Bukowski, Uwe Preuss
Runtime 79 mins