The age old argument comes to mind when beginning to put into words this film; is there any merit in films that have been created solely to try and be the most shocking committed to film? Some extreme horror films hold a reasoning behind their atrocities, as they try to provide the audience with a social commentary, a political rant or even as an anarchist movement against their Government. Then there are those that want to be all of the above transformed into one piece, yet don’t hold the knowledge of how to do that. Marian Dora’s controversial Melancholie Der Engel is the latter; a film that serves absolutely no purpose to the audience other than to shock them beyond their senses, and even when it tries to do that it just becomes tiresome.
Two male friends take a trip to the funfair in order to find themselves some female company for the evening, and once there they stumble upon Bianca and Melanie, two young and beautiful women. They invite the women for drinks where they drug them, and drive them back to a mansion accompanied by another woman from the bar, whom they did not have to drug. Once at the mansion, they reveal they want to indulge in some of their darkest fantasies, especially as one of them is dying with not long left to live. They are soon joined by an elderly man and his disabled friend? (it’s never quite clear what relation she is to him), who are also going to participate in what’s about to come. The group decide they will humour Katze who is dying in his last moments and take part in the sexual depravity to fulfill some of his final needs, and from there we are plunged into a nightmarish film full of vicious acts.
Melancholie Der Engel tries exceptionally hard to have the meaning that it so wants to possess; the constant voiceover talks about life, death, meaning and similar philosophical tropes. There are also segments from certain historical books including Marquis De Sade’s Justine and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, including many others, but that seems like a lazy way of writing a script by simply taking famous works from controversial authors and making it seem like the works of your own. By including all of these anecdotes throughout the film, voiced by either our protagonists Brauth or Katze, it makes the film become a pretentious and self-righteous piece of cinema that doesn’t sit well with the viewer. It feels like a mockery of the person watching and also of itself, constantly trying to justify the actions of immoral people with literature that does not belong to Dora himself. This ostentatious mood that is heavily focused on throughout the film is one of the reasons it has an almost unbearable runtime of 2hours 38 minutes, because large sections of it are characters prancing around naked talking about the meaning of life before fingering a rotting skull. After the first few times it becomes highly tedious to watch.
With all movies that give a form of excuse to the awful atrociousness that happens throughout, they manage to go further than expected and try to push the boundary of the film to furthest depths. Dora does exactly that with Melancholie Der Engel and tries to show the most revolting scenes that will make any hardened extreme horror film fan feel nauseated and uncomfortable. These scenes begin from the very opening of the film, which starts with an unflinching attack on a pregnant woman and her unborn child that determines the tone for the entirety of the film; the audience at least know from the very start that this isn’t going to be an enjoyable watch. There are themes of coprohilia, rape, abuse, humilation, animal torture, necrophilia and more. Anything you could possibly imagine, Dora has done absolutely everything in his perverted power to put that onto the screen for you to witness in the flesh. Some of the most disgusting acts to come from Engel include the young Clarissa who is confided to a wheelchair, being abused by Brauth with him ripping out her colostomy bag and brutally fingering the hole where her intestines are bulging out from; this act isn’t even particularly hard to watch because of the colostomy, but more because it happily shows the violent abuse against an innocent and helpless disabled woman, which I personally find offensive and distasteful. There are scenes of a violent womb removal, cunninglingus with a goat and the very graphic slaughtering of a pig. Even if all the scenes were to be detailed here in words, it’s hard to believe they were allowed to be made in film and actually released to the world, but you have to see it to believe it.
The film is often commended for its cinematography and acting, which to an extent is a fair point to make, but once you take a very close look it seems that it was a comment made by those being kind. Cinematography is not awful, but for an art-house film it lacks that something special that sets apart from all the rest of the films that have been made. Some of the scenes throughout the film are quite difficult to watch at times because the camera erratically moves between different acts of horrors on-screen to inflict some form of strobe effect with disgusting scenes. The performances in the film do get credit, especially Zensa Raggi, who by day is a porn star which explains why he would have been more than happy to show his rock-hard cock pulsating and juicing everywhere. His depiction of Brauth is perfectly executed, with a selfish sensibility that relies purely on him indulging any of his disgusting and contorted fantasies. Frank Oliver plays secondary protagonist Katze, and his portrayal is one of the biggest faults with the film; it’s as simple as saying he cannot act. During his moments when he has a stroke, the movements, sounds and eye rolls he makes remind me of my attempts at acting in drama when I was 8, just embarrassing to watch.
Melancholie Der Engel is a piece of cinema that doesn’t allow the audience to breathe, without forcing ejaculating genitals, real animal slaughter or sexualised violence down their throats first. It is a film that has been created solely to shock the audience and go further than many other films, yet it ends up feeling pretentious and self-righteous for no real reason. Marian Dora has gained his reputation in the extreme horror cinema world for this atrocious movie, and that’s purely from hearsay about how many awful acts are included in a film with an overstretched runtime. You would be correct that it’s one of those films that just has to be ticked off your list, but if you want to spend your time wisely then I would suggest you avoid Melancholie Der Engel.
Verdict: 1 star out of 5