Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps Movie Review
Written by Simon Bland
DVD released by Kontra Produktion
Directed by Michael Steiner
Written by Michael Steiner and Stefanie Japp
2010, 110 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Roxane Mesquida as Sennentuntschi
Nicholas Ofczarek as Sebastian Reusch
Andrea Zogg as Erwin
Carlos Leal as Martin
Joel Basman as Albert
Hanspeter Müller as Notter
Sentunchi? Sennanichi? Senterparks? This Euro-horror may be a bit of a mouthful but it’s one that’s worth ingesting. With Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps, director Michael Steiner chaperones Switzerland’s first genre movie to the big screen with style. Part murder mystery, part grizzly fairytale its dual story lines combine to form a memorable and impressive debut.
The Alps, 1975. After the questionable suicide of a local priest and the sudden appearance of a peculiar young woman, townsfolk superstitions are quickly uprooted. Thought to be somehow linked to the recent tragedy, this mysterious beauty is disliked by everyone except Reusch, a trusting cop with a troubled past. Meanwhile, inside a remote shack on a nearby hilltop, a trio of lonely farmers drunkenly dabble with the supernatural. Their goal? To create the mythical Sennentuntschi: a straw-woman given life by the devil to see to their every need.
Once alive, this sexy Frankenstein’s monster is used and abused by her testosterone-filled captors. However, it’s not long before she takes her bloody revenge on anyone who crosses her path. Thanks to some plucky detective work, Reursch discovers that these events are connected and that the mysterious woman he’s taken under his wing may be hiding a deadly secret.
Needless to say, there’s quite a lot going on. Not only that, but the back-and-forth narrative used to tell the tale doesn’t exactly lend itself to straightforward viewing. Here’s an example: the movie starts in present day before flashing back to the action only to return to real time for a very brief epilogue. It could be argued that this adds to its folk-story ‘tall tale’ theme, after all, we’re being told what happened in ghost story fashion by a now-adult eye witness. However, it’s a slightly convoluted story telling method that may leave many scratching their heads.
Unnecessarily disjointed storyline aside, Steiner crafts a beautifully shot and well thought-out horror that keeps you guessing. Stellar performances from Nicholas Ofczarek as doomed copper Reusch and Roxane Mesquida, as the oh-so innocent but oh-so deadly Sennentuntschi, force you to sit up and pay attention.
And you’ll be glad you did, if only to admire the thing. Cinematographer Pascal Walder makes this a treat for the eyes, filling every scene with dark fairytale iconography. Speckled mushrooms, stone cottages, rolling rural landscapes — they’re all here and begging to be gawped at. While by no means perfect, Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps will no doubt leave you eager for more Swiss horror. Who knows, they could become the country’s next top export. Watch out Toblerone.