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M, A Review

Now you may wonder what M has to do with horror. Well nothing really other than it deals with the subject of death, and a killer. Its a suspense murder mystery set in 1930’s Germany, and is both a good and bad movie in my opinion. How can this be you may ask? It’s quite simple actually, a movie thats good and bad has good aspects and bad ones.

The movie begins with a long period of silence as suspense is built up around a mother whose waiting for her daughter to come home from school. I like the way the silence is used because it creates an eerie atmosphere, and keeps you holding your breath for whatever happens next. We then go down to the street, where by deductive reasoning, we figure that this little girl is the daughter the mother is waiting for. The daughter we see is approached by a stranger and complimented on her dress, so she decides to take a walk with him. After walking a few feet and engaging in conversation the man stops and buys her a balloon and candy as they head to the park. The shot then zooms into the girls feet sticking out of a bush, insinuating her death, then takes a shot of her balloon wrapped up in power lines slowly deflating then to an empty candy bag fluttering in the wind.

The one thing i can most certainly say i like is the off screen death of the olden day flick. Don’t get me wrong I love a gory obnoxious death, I wouldn’t have made this blog about horror movies if i didn’t, but there is a charm to the off screen death in that it forces the viewer to use their  imagination. The human mind is powerful, and the images of horror we can concoct with it are usually more graphic than anything that can be put onto film or built with special effects. No wonder fear is such a powerful thing…

But i digress, at this point the movie starts to build up the situation at hand, a killer, a child killer is on the loose in a small German town. Everyone is baffled. Hes left no clues, no evidence, only a single handwritten note, written in red pencil. They find no fingerprints on it… they’re lost. The family holds a funeral for the daughter (also the 9th victim of the killer), as we fade out into the night streets to a  bar in the corner of an alley. Everyone is carrying on and having a good time, gambling, drinking, and prostitution are abound, and just as the fun kicks off the cops show up, raiding the criminal underground in search of the killer. The police ask for papers (I.D.) and whoever dosen’t have it is carted off to prison.

The criminal underworld meets now as we are invited into a private poker game of “bad guys” and we hear them conversing about how there going to go and find this child killer and bring him to justice. We are shortly after this plopped into the police station where the cops are setting up a plan of action, how they will go house to house with the clues they have discovered and try to find a old wooden table with red pencil shavings around it or a red pencil (they deduced these clues from the way the handwriting looked on the paper). Quickly back to the bad guys we go as they conduct their own plan of action having the pickpockets patrol street corners and buildings for any sign of this creep. A pair of pickpockets eventually see a strange customer walking with a little girl. They follow him as he gives her fruit and candy, and then to a balloon stand, the same one he visited at the beginning of the movie, and buys her a balloon. The two pickpockets loose sight of him when they run into the balloon vendor, a blind old man. They ask him where he went and if knows which direction he went in describing their one clue to the blind man(the only clue the pickpockets had up until that time was the song the man they pursued whistled). The blind man using his other senses not only tells them the direction he went in, but also confirms hes the one who bought the same clown balloon for the other girl that died and whistled in the same pitch. The pickpockets immediately continue to pursue him and one of them puts a mark on his back with some chalk in the shape of an M when he pretends to bump into him. The bad guys eventually find and pursue him into an office building where they loose him as he hides in the attic. What would bad guys do in this situation? Yep, you guessed it, break in and find ’em.

In what has to be one of the slowest most drawn out search scenes I’ve ever seen ( it would have been great sped up, with the Benny Hill theme added into it) the bad guys search the building, and eventually find the guy. Doing another bad guy thing quite well, they also left the most likely to snitch member of the gang, who in fact snitches when the police lie to him… like they always do.

As we settle into finally seeing the killer for the first time he wakes up in a warehouse in front of a “jury” of bad guys, and they toss around their moral fibers as they decide what to do with the guy. The mob boss saying he should be executed, and the killers “defense attorney” argues that the mob boss is a murderer too, and the killer begs for his life, and they bicker like this back and forth until, once again the police show up, say “Stick ’em Up!” and the movie fades to black.

Overall, I’d say its a good flick, subtitled throughout for those who can’t understand German, and good to great acting throughout, THE REALLY BAD MOVIE REVIEW gives this flick 4 of 5 1/2 stars. Fritz Lang (even though hes dead) should be proud of his directing job, and ability to make suspense come to life. Peter Lorre (even though hes dead) should be proud of the job he did, bringing a crazy serial killer to life on the silver screen, and making it believable (believe me here at THE REALLY BAD MOVIE REVIEW we’ve seen a lot, and i mean a lot of bad actors and bad movies, it’s our specialty after all).

Good flick, go see it, don’t bring the kids.

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~ by Russell Weinberg on September 17, 2010.

3 Responses to “M, A Review”

  1. I agree. The Benny Hill theme makes most things more enjoyable, especially Peter Lorre’s eyes.

  2. I really liked a few things that you mention in this review. I am with you with the whole loving off screen deaths because it does lead the imagination to something that no director could do since your imagination will always be worse off than something that is shown to you. Another thing about your review I liked was how you mention’d that the search scene was drawn out and I do also agree with that, i don’t know if it’s because I am used to action happening quickly in modern movies or if it’s because it was a long scene but I felt that it could have been shorter and still had the same amount of effect. The third thing about your review that is very correct is the fact of how in the final paragraph you say that Lang was make the suspense come to life to the viewer because at every moment something huge to the plot could have happened.

  3. Ha! Yes, I completely agree with you with the off-screen death scenes. It seems more-or-less odd, but at the same time, it feels more terrifying NOT seeing these scenes because the director makes us the viewers make images in our minds as to what happened. It’s also used in The Public Enemy. And it works!

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