Have you ever woken from an especially interesting dream, gone to recount the details to someone only to find it suddenly seems incomprehensible in your head?
That’s how director Tilman Singer’s feature length debut Luz leaves you. It’s a bizarre web of religious fear, the occult and demonic lust that entraps you from its cold opening sequence which leaves you entirely disorientated for its 70-minute run time.
To describe the plot is almost fruitless, Luz is more of a feeling than it is a narrative tale. Shot on 16mm film, the grainy texture gives the images an air of timelessness, helped by its clear influence from the giallo horrors of the 70s.
The bare bones of the story is a young cab driver, the eponymous Luz, enters a run down police station in Germany and begins to recount the events leading to her arrival.
Little does she know that Dr. Rossini, the psychiatrist she is telling her tale to, has been drinking at a bar all evening with the enchanting Nora, who is possessed by a demonic entity that has lusted over Luz since her school days in Chile.
A fever dream of a chamber drama ensues, as Rossini works his way into her reenactment, bringing to the surface the truths under the surface of their encounter. Jan Bluthardt’s emotionally kaleidoscopic performance as the psychiatrist is a joy, as he goes from a sober loner at a dingy bar to controlling the room whilst drunk on demonic energy.
Luz acts out her story like a no-budget high school play, a chair in the middle of the room becomes the driver’s seat of her cab, despite never leaving the room the chaotic sound design places you firmly in the car.
She puts her foot on the accelerator and we hear the engine rev, and when voicing her passengers’ lines it’s their voice that leaves her mouth, as if she is possessed.
It’s a deeply uncanny performance that could very easily wander into being gimmicky, but Luana Velis’ physical acting and the pulsating score make it bizarrely intoxicating to watch.
These sequences may be less mesmerising as the film goes on, but never become predictable, with Singer constantly throwing a spanner into the works.
This chaotic unpredictability will leave you baffled, and not all its threads tie together in the end, but they don’t need to – its alluring nature and the unflinching mood of frantic horror that weigh over you as you watch make the film so satisfying.
Luz is definitely worth the price of admission, especially for fans of Peter Strickland, but don’t expect a clear and concise plot, instead buckle up for 70 minutes of recklessly creative demonic madness.
Luz was screened at HOME, Manchester as part of FilmFear. Further details can be found here: https://homemcr.org/event/filmfear/