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SENNENTUNTSCHI: CURSE OF THE ALPS (2011)

Directed by Michael Steiner
Written by Michael Steiner, Michael Sauter & Stefanie Japp
Starring Roxanne Mesquida, Nicholas Ofczarek, Andrea Zogg, Joel Basman, Carlos Leal
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This is an odd little film that shuffles time frames, locales, and genres in its close to two hour running time. I can’t say I was enthralled by every second of this Swiss/German fairy tale-like film, but the fact that it’s so scattershot makes the film endearing to me. The ancient fable of Sennentuntschi goes like this: a group of lonely men are looking for the perfect woman, so they make one out of straw, sticks, and old clothes. She comes alive and cooks, cleans, and sexually services the men, then one night she kills them all and makes them into human dolls. Sounds pretty creepy, I know. But the fact that SENNENTUNTCHI doesn’t really know what type of film it wants to be turns out to be its blessing and curse.

The film starts out like a ghost story, with a boy appearing out of nowhere directing a little girl who has run off from her mother to find a dead body. Once found, the police wonder what happened to the decayed skeleton they’ve found. Cue flashback thirty years to a simpler time where a sheriff finds a hanged priest in the church. Immediately after, a filthy feral girl is found in the street and called a witch. The sheriff protects the girl and ends up having a relationship with her; like ya do when you’re a sheriff and you have a dirty feral girl in your jail cell, right? The girl disappears in the night after the sheriff and her have sex and happens upon three men in a cabin on a mountain. The men tell the story of Sennentuntchi and just as the elder of the three finishes the fable, cue feral girl on their doorstep.

Now, if a sheriff having sex with his prisoner sounds a bit rough and tumble for a fable that started out as if it were along the same tone as THE OTHERS or maybe THE ORPHANAGE rings a bit in-apropos to you, wait until the rape scenes! What starts out like a kids’ cautionary tale proceeds to run more along the lines of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE as the three men have their way with the girl and then she…well, you know the fable already.

I don’t want to spoil the ending. I’ve said enough about the film itself. It’s a mish-mash of different genres and films, capably done but somewhat unfocused story-wise. Plus there’s modern Swiss German rock and roll music throughout which makes it all the more weird as some of them are remakes of American songs. SENNENTUNTCHI is an odd little number, I’ll give you that. Good? Debatable. But it’s definitely odd.

Check out the trailer here!!