Based upon the novel of the same title, written by the author Heinz Strunk and published in 2016.
Unlike a ton of American productions about Serial Killers which feels the need to pick at the upbringing and give a reason for the erratic behaviour, there’s a ton of grotty mess throughout this pretty accurate retelling of the crimes of a notoriously bad character who eventually killed 4 part time prostitutes in a region of Hamburg in the late 70’s. Fritz Honka has a troubled life from a youngster but the film opens with the discarding of his first corpse, one that would alter the police but not much else would come from his nightly escapade of desperate sex and murder.
Honka is played by a pretty attractive and young German actor, Jonas Dassler who works his ass off to play this misaligned and deformed character with the use of some marvelous method acting and special effects he really does a lot to mimic the grimy nutcase. The film plays out the four year span where Honka did most of his killing, there’s some elaborations and artistic licence with story, with the inclusion of a young teen couple who are trying to be adults in and around the red light district, they story dips in and out giving Honka some wank material and moves the plot along when it begins to flounder.
The film will draw a lot of negative attention as it doesn’t give those reasons why or try to elude to the method behind the madness, but it’s also going to jerk a lot of people for its portrayal of Germany and it’s underbelly of red light district of down and out drinkers and prostitute circuit, Honka was known for his lifelong alcoholism and need to be dominant over women, and being 5’6” and having such a small frame he found that targeting short older women to be the key to getting the upper hand, he also preferred them toothless, and if they had any teeth before they met him, they certainly wouldn’t have any after.
“Beige Grime“, it the best way to really describe the atmosphere of this production, nearly everywhere you look there’s a layer of filth, not so more when the film goes into the tiny attic apartment of the killer, papered with porn and littered with body parts and tree shaped air fresheners, the rank smell almost emanate from the screen. The killings and clean up are pretty graphic and prolonged, they aren’t done in any stylish manner either this feels pretty raw and sad watching a creep destroy these elderly and vulnerable women with a shred of pity. One of them almost gets her own back and it makes for the longest kill scene and most bittersweet revenge that involves some kind of spicy condiment. I really wanted her to live..
Between the deranged levels of schnapps drinking and sweaty violence, Honka does have a life altering altercation with a VW wagon outside of a local church, he stops drinking and changes his job, almost becoming a decent member of society. He gets a uniform and for once the environment changes, it’s the one small glimpse of life outside of Honda’s tiny dirty world, but his presence soon mars the pristine office block that he watches and protects at night.
At times it feels like a telescopic lenses has been shoved up the ass of the lowlifes that frequent the worst bar in the red light district, we’re forced to witness to the absolute misery surrounding the desperate drunks and we become au fait with Honka and all the other regulars at the Golden Glove, it starts to get pretty claustrophobic and in dark ways, slightly funny. it can be hard to watch, to be fair, it’s not supposed to be easy to watch someone kill out of anger, and that’s coming from a serial killer fangirl. I film certainly raises a lot of emotions which is critical for any movie to be considered good. It’s basically like watching someone humiliate, rape, beat and kill your mother or grandmother then pop off to work to perve over the next potential victim.
For me this was emotive and thrilling, certainly one of the best films from German/Turkish director Fatih Akin, a lot of people seem to be questioning why he made the film as it doesn’t answer any questions or allude to any hidden secrets, but for anyone who’s not clued up on the killers spree, this is strangely a great introduction and to be honest done with enough style and grit that I would like to see a lot more serial killer movies move in this direction.
The ending is a little rushed and some choices to add in the teen couple and other characters are indeed questionable but all in all I feel it really gets across the bizarre nature of this slightly lesser known criminal, who lived out his last years in a nursing home with a fake identity.. There is a quaint little outro which shows real crime scene photos, maybe just a nod to the effort that Akin went to in order to keep the film as accurate as possible and maybe to help the audience realise that yes, things were indeed that disgusting…But this is definitely one of my favourite movies of the year and certainly one of the better killer movies based on real life.
R: M (1931), Monster (2003), Deathmaker (1995), Schramm (1993), Angst (1983)
L: A-Z of Serial Killer Movies,
A: How should Killers be portrayed?