Reviewed by: Sophie Charlotte Rieger

In the year 2000 the comedy Harte Jungs (aka Ants In The Pants or The Two Of Us) kicked of the career of German actor Axel Stein. He has been loyal to comedy ever since, on the small as well as the big screen. With Tape_13, Stein breaks new ground, taking on the director’s chair and the risk of making a true genre movie.

German cinema isn’t particularly famous for its genre movies. Every now and then someone tries to do something like science fiction (Hell) or zombie horror (Rammbock), but it is safe to say that German genre cinema is almost non-existent.

Copy picture

Unfortunately “Tape_13” is not going to change that. Instead of doing something different and original Axel Stein decides to copy what is already there. His found-footage film is a poor rip-off of Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project.

The setting in the forests of the Eifel is probably the one and only true German element of the concept. After their rental car has broken down, a couple travelling from Sweden and Latvia join a German group of friends who are spending the weekend in a cabin in the woods. After experimenting with a Ouija board, strange things start to happen. A mysterious man strolls around the premises, occult mirror fragments hang in the trees and an evil presence haunts the cabin. As the young campers finally realise these incidents are neither a sick joke nor the product of their imagination, it is already too late to escape what they have unleashed.

As a title sequence in the beginning of the movie tells us, the footage has been found in the cabin. It is not edited in any way, though certain passages have been deleted because they are part of an ongoing investigation concerning the disappearance of everyone present in that video. At least that is what it says. For a German cinema audience the found-footage illusion lasts only a few minutes, because even though actors such as Pit Bukowski and Sonja Gerhardt can be called “newcomers” their faces are already famous enough to expose the farce. The cast do their best, but aren’t able to convince us of the story’s authenticity. Tape_13 features good performances, but they can always be identified as just that - performances.

But the main problem is that Tape_13 so obviously draws inspiration from the aforementioned US-American horrorflicks that it becomes downright annoying. It is as though one day Stein woke up and had this funny idea to call some of his acting friends and do one of those crazy found-footage things. Because it is fun, really cheap and works well with the cinema audience nowadays. Wouldn’t that be great?

No, it wouldn’t. And it isn’t. If only Stein managed to make a brilliant copy instead of a crappy one that creates suspense exclusively thanks to an overblown sound design (so much for “non-edited video material”) and presents neither convincing characters nor a rudimental story. Hopefully Tape_13 will never enter the internationally known German movie canon, because that would be embarrassing - fortunately, the chances are good that this is not going to happen.

Reviewed on: 14 Feb 2014
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Homage to the Blair Witch Project.

Director: Axel Stein

Writer: Jan-Oliver Lampe

Starring: Nadine Petry, Lars Steinhöfel, Pit Bukowski, Sonja Gerhardt, Cristina do Rego

Year: 2014

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: Germany


BIFF 2014

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If you like this, try:

The Blair Witch Project