dir. Lukas Rinker
From Edgar Allen Poe though to Spooloos, The Descent and Buried, there’s a long tradition of horror featuring confined spaces. Even for non-claustrophobes the idea of being trapped and unable to move is unnerving, and in horror there’s often the added possibility there could be malicious intent behind such imprisonment.
Lukas Rinker’s Holy Shit! takes this classic premise and ramps it up a few notches. Architect Frank (Thomas Niehaus) isn’t just stuck, he’s pinned: impaled through the arm on a rusty metal rod. Worse than that, his life is in danger if he doesn’t find a way out in the next 30 minutes. Worse even than that, he’s trapped in one of least appealing places on Earth – an overturned portaloo.
Frank wakes up to this nightmare with little memory of how he got there, but throughout the film fragments start to come back to him. He’d been working on a new building development along with his business partner Horst (Gedeon Burkhard) and today’s the day of the big launch. The first stage of work was demolishing Horst’s family mansion and Frank gradually realises that he’s right in the blast zone, unable to move, and the clock is ticking.
Using his limited resources to find a way out Frank benefits from a remarkably well-stocked toilet, complete with first aid kit. His efforts though are repeatedly thwarted, and he discovers that what he’d assumed was a terrible accident may have actually happened by design.
Rinker does an excellent job of establishing Frank’s situation, keeping the early action confined to the loo, and his disorientating camera work adds to the tension in these initial scenes. There’s creative use too of sound that advances the plot without taking us out of the single location, as Frank overhears Horst’s event speeches.
After this first act however the film loses some of its tautness. The introduction of other characters pulls some of the focus from Frank, but they aren’t established well enough and the result is slightly distracting. Also although Rinker skilfully treads the line between horror and comedy for most of the film (Frank’s predicament is equally terrible and ridiculous) by the end this tips a little far into farce, with slapstick and cartoonish villainy coming to the fore.
Overall Holy Shit! is tightly paced with an impressively varied performance by Niehaus. It’s a great addition to the sub-genre of fixed-location, real-time thrillers and with enough wince-inducing gore to earn its place as a bona fide horror flick too.
© Melissa Cox