One Night in an EVIL Sanatorium. What Could Go Wrong? “Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” review!


Among the outskirts of Berlin lies a vacant and dilapidated Heilstätten hospital once used by the World War II Nazis to conducted “mercy deaths” for tuberculosis patients. Over the years, the hospital has remained dormant in its subsequent closure after the war and infamous labeled cursed and haunted during daytime tours, becoming the sole connection between instances of madness and murder through the decades. When a pair of YouTube pranksters and social media influencer gamble against each other on spending 24 hours inside the hospital for viral stardom to gain more followers, they’ll put the hospital’s paranormal notoriety to the test with the help of Heilstätten tour guide Theo as their access onto the grounds. With all the cameras set up and the stage set for an all-nighter spook show, their viral glory campaign becomes a malevolent presence’s bloodbath welcoming.

“Heilstätten,” also known as “Haunted Hospital: Heilstätten” under the North American market, is the gruesomely supernatural found footage horror film from “Potato Salad” director Michael David Pate. Pate, who also co-wrote the script with Ecki Ziedrich, helms his own perspective on the sanatorium (English term for Heilstätten) horror that offers more than just a phantom in hospital wings. Deranged and soulless Nazis performed immoral experiments on not just the Jewish people, but also sought to eradicate the sick for their feverish impurities, such as those afflicted with tuberculosis. “Heilstätten” pits history against the present in a egregious tone of respecting the past and diminishing the importance young social media influencers without a peck of smarts or appreciation.

The 2018 film stars “Tape_13’s” Sonja Gerhardt as Marnie, a social media star who records and implores people to face their worst faces, catching up with the group of YouTubers before they dig themselves deeper into their own graves. Gerhardt’s hard sell of her character doesn’t quite shape the sincerity in stopping the carnage before it happens as Marnie is the proverbial monkey wrench in the overnight blood bath. Marnie is drawn to Theo, an ex-lover that hasn’t quite severed her interests in him, played by Tim Oliver Schultz. As the tour guide breaking all the rules, Theo’s compulsion to help wavers on the idea of being just as renowned on the internet as those he’s helping, but there is more to meet the eye with Theo than the surface level material. The more complex characters revolve around the pranksters, Charly and Finn, played by Emilio Sakraya and Timmi Trinks, who become wedged by social media influencer Betty, Nilam Farooq. Charly’s strive for world wide web fandom drives him blind to the circumstances around him, especially when Finn and Betty become romantically involved, and despite Finn’s willingness to be part of the prank, his conscious breaks beyond Charly’s gimmicky barrier where lives actually do matter over stardom when people end up missing or dead at the hands of an ominous force. “Heilstätten” cast rounds out with Farina Flebbe, Maxine Kazis, Lisa Marie-Koroll, and Davis Schulz.

The trick about “Heilstätten’s” allure is the moments that the ghost film isn’t afraid of the blood and flesh bits founded upon a nicely laid foundation with the Nazis’ extermination activities and all the notorious lore surrounding a hospital. The hospital itself, Heilstätten, wasn’t created out of thin air just for the story sake. Pate and Ziedrick used the withering Beelitz Heilstätten as their base, utilizing actual historical facts, such as Adolf Hilter was treated at the hospital during World War I, to even further demonize the setting, but in reality, Beelitz Heilstätten rehabilitated the war wounded rather than mercy death the Tuberculosis-stricken. Yes, the hospital was Nazi occupied, but so did the Russians after the war. “Heilstätten” has rich backstory that basically breeds itself into a horror film. However, one aspect about what discourages “Heilstättens” effectiveness is the use of soundtrack for a found footage horror film. No found footage horror film should ever have a soundtrack that doesn’t add to the realism and renders the film more closely to William Malone’s “House on Haunted Hill” in more than one similarity.

Well Go USA Entertainment admits proudly Michael David Pate’s 20th Century Fox International produced “Heilstätten” onto a dual format, DVD and 1080p Blu-ray, release. The Region 1 and A, not rated film is presented in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, that’s relatively free of problems. The second act shadows find definition hard to make out under the quick, stark edits, but the “Predator” heat vision is nice touch to liven things up when the darkness is as black as night. The German language DTS-HD Master Audio lives up to the supernatural maelstrom that cause the covers to be pulled up to your eyeballs with range and depth to personify the gloomy corridors and multi-level death snares. The hard-lined English subtitles are well synced and accurate and the release also offers up an English dub track. The DVD comes with an English language Dolby Digital track too. Bonus features a slim with a just a trailer to it’s name. “Heilstätten” is one effectively spooky, atmospherically creepy, and dreadfully engrossing good time with a full-bodied backstory topped with Blut und Eingeweide.

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Anybody and Everybody Can Be Evil! “The Summer House” review!

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Markus lives the perfect life: a lucrative job in construction management, an adoring and faithful wife, and a beautiful and smart daughter about to tend a prominent English school. Yet, Marcus finds solace in a double life by living his true self as a bi-sexual man with a secret, younger male lover from one of his construction projects, leaving his wife frustrated and destructive in their foundering marriage. When Markus’s construction colleague Christopher finds himself being squeezed by the taxing agency, Marcus offers to help out a little. Christopher asks his 12-year-old son Johannes to be nice to and to spend time with Markus’s 11-year-old daughter Elisabeth in a show of good faith towards Markus’s good will. With Johannes around most of the time, Markus tries to keep grounded his uncontrollable desires for Johannes, but invites Johannes to Markus’s family’s summer house. Through the summer, Markus and Johannes form a relationship, but not everything is as it’s seems when hidden agendas and surprising outcomes could potentially destroy everyone involved.
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An intense psychosexual, “The Summer House” zips straight out of Berlin from writer-director Curtis Burz who touches upon more taboo subject material than one might be able to withstand without feeling guilty, dirty, or rotten. Burz’s pen weaves through one man’s constant struggle between maintaining a barely afloat marriage to a wife he loves because of their daughter and his secretive bi-sexual life in an affair involving a much younger man. Burz also remarks on Markus’s wife Christine and her battle with near tragic depression; she’s complicit in Markus’s affair by allowing him, with only little resistance, to continue, yet Christine wants Markus to rediscover his love for her on his own. The pen continues to weave through the stories of the children, Johannes and Elisabeth. The very nature of a child feels exploited here in more ways than one, but the film’s end game takes an usual twist, one I can’t spill here without spoiling the finale fun. Burz continues to drop dark material presented and staged in a glowing-like and vividly colorful mise-en-scene throughout that would suggest happiness or perfection for all involved; however, the nagging, gloomy undertone remains behind the scenes and unseen and that’s the kind of sadistically gratifying contribution added by director Curtis Burz.
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“The Summer House” is a socially controversial film without being overly in your face with it. Nothing is explicit with the subtleties being just enough to make your stomach feel uneasy and to make your jaw clench with anticipation. The scenes with Markus (the then 40-year-old Sten Jacobs) and Johannes (a certainly under 18-year-old Jasper Fuld) kept building the tension between them and Jacobs portrayed a creepy, over-anxious and over-persistent pedophile uncomfortably well whereas Fuld plays his part just as convincingly as a seemingly tolerable young boy who may or may not be curious about Markus’s intentions toward him. The vexation Christine discharges is all due in part, greatly toward, of the leading lady Anna Altmann’s performance. Altmann captures a wife in marriage limbo, looking to rekindle a broken family stuck in stalemate due to her husband’s mid-life sexual crisis while maintaining her daughter’s precociousness. Nina Splettstößer feeds off Atlmann’s motherly performance by portraying Elisabeth as quiet and intelligent, yet passive and conniving who sees her mother as someone who hates her because of how stringent her mother is toward her.
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The story’s complex web becomes stickier and the spider draws even closer when Markus’s secret sleepovers become exposed, creating a twist ending not even M. Night Shyamalan could conjure up. However, the story behind Markus’s colleague Christopher and his wife Anne feels ignored and neglected. Aside from Christopher incidentally being the catalyst between Markus and Johannes, Christopher and Anne’s scenes seem unnecessary. One scene has the both adult couples seemingly in the early wine and dine stages of a swinger party, but once most of the kissing between Anne, Christopher and Christine is out of the way, the scene falls short with a quick cut to just Markus finishing off with his wife Christine with all their clothes still on. Christopher and Anne come and go in barely a handful of other scenes that don’t tie into much of the story and would have either been better if either explored further into their adventurous lifestyle to get a better understanding of Johannes or leave them out all together.
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Overall, “The Summer House” is deserving of it’s numerous film festival awards and a solid release for not only Artsploitation Films, but also as a film that has been Berlin born even if the film released nearly 3 years ago. Certainly very relevant to today’s modern multi-societal problems including the dissolving of families, behavioral issues with not only pedophilia, but with depression, and to round out the pleasantries with scrofulous affairs. The Artsploitation Films, in a metaphorical broken and cracked pane glass over a solemn Markus family DVD cover, has a widescreen 1.85:1 ratio release with a German and English 2.0 audio track is accompanied with bonus features that include deleted scenes, cast and crew interviews, and a trailer; all content clocks in at around 195 minutes total – not bad all around for an independent feature.