Nekromantik 2 review
Jorg Buttgereit returned to his tribute to the loving deadwith Nekromantik 2 in 1991, a film that attempted to branch off from his original controversial story by involving new characters and a different view of necrophilia. Instead of the newfound shared interest between a couple in the first film, Nekromantik 2 takes the perspective of a woman named Monika who begins to find love with both a corpse and a living man, and then is forced to choose between the two. It’s a different sort of love story, as Buttgereit refers to it, that manages to focus on alternative themes in necrophilia despite its similarities.
With that in mind, Buttgereit is still up to his tricks and the shock tactics of disgusting footage. Nekromantik 2 is a step up for him in terms of the ultra-low budget, but all is of little importance if there’s no variety to the plot. Thankfully, Buttgereit finds ample burial ground with a new approach to the concept, and his point of view shift makes for a very interesting study both of necrophiliacs – however many of them there are – and the emotional disturbance in their lives, but it also acts as a metaphorical treatise on watching grotesque films. We’ll get to that in a bit, but keep that in mind.
The film’s focus on Monika (Monika M.) is unwavering. In fact, “unwavering” is a good description for much of Nekromantik 2, because Buttgereit is unconcerned with editing his lengthy drawn-out scenes. With Monika at the center of the film, the audience is presented with a seemingly normal person going to great lengths to find an outlet for her passions. Buttgereit depicts this with his uncut shots of Monika digging up the dead body of Rob from the first film and her attempts to dismember the body in her bathtub – they may seem like unnecessary and overly long additions to the film, but Buttgereit’s artistic use of uncompromised scenes are intentional, meant to cement this obsession.
Monika is supposed to be a person the viewer can relate to, at least in small part; other than her dead body love, she leads a regular life. Buttgereit does, however, add small details, either to her apartment or the things that surround her, to highlight her deathly obsession. Her decorations are mostly anatomy-based, and during various scenes at a carnival setting, she is literally framed by death – either a skull, a grim reaper, or some haunt from a horror house.
Nekromantik 2 is often gruesome, but not in the ways one might expect. The dead body special effects are gross, and Buttgereit does include some sexy loving in the first moments of the film, but Monika’s fornication with a moldering Rob are rarely shown in detail. Instead, Monika’s relationship with the living Mark (Mark Reeder) is the central idea, and Buttgereit doesn’t skimp on showing the more disgusting habits of the living as well. Many scenes with Monika and Mark are intentionally uncomfortable. The sex is up-close and loud in a way that’s off-putting to say the least; it seems Buttgereit is making a statement about necrophilia, or at least comparing it to the bodily functions of the living person as well. Mark and Monika eating pizza, their lips and mouths smacking loudly, are equally nasty – there’s very little about the film that isn’t unsettling in some way.
It does often feel like Nekromantik 2 has little in terms of concrete plot, though, with Buttgereit often slipping into his experimental auteurism on more than one occasion. There’s an interlude with Monika singing the theme song along with a guy playing piano; there’s an extended film within the film with naked people talking ornithology. These take away from wherever the film’s supposed to be headed, but it keeps the viewer off-guard.
Eventually, it becomes clear that Monika’s perversities are coming to a head, that her attempts to pursue a living relationship are not working out the way she hopes. Buttgereit resorts to a graphic video of a seal autopsy for this evidence, and then works in a literally climactic finale where the dead replace the living. It sort of comes out of nowhere – there’s little evidence that Monika will make these decisions so soon, but there’s really no way for Nekromantik 2 to prompt this without revealing too much. It forces the viewer to question the final takeaway of the film. Putting Mark in a position where he has to either accept or rebuff Monika’s eccentricities allows the viewer to understand his predicament. It also seems to indict horror viewers, the same people who would be watching a film like Nekromantik 2; Mark’s disgust and remarks about how someone could watch something so perverse as a seal autopsy are also directed at us.
Though Buttgereit’s conclusion seems to revel in Monika’s violent pleasure, it also shows how far she has come in her own perversion; it is both a romantic and sadistic twist, perfect for the film’s outre tone. Nekromantik 2, just like the first, is a film that’s not for the faint of heart or those that believe Buttgereit is simply in it for the distasteful shocks. It can be slow and tedious; it can be disgusting and overwhelming. But there is a certain delight in watching Monika grow as a necrophiliac all the same, a commentary Buttgereit artistically depicts again and again.
Click next for the Blu-Ray review.