From the opening sequence of Greg Zglinski’s Tiere (Animals), you know you’re in for something special. A woman in a red nightgown throws herself from a window of a Viennese flat, but the camera slowly pans down to a vacant pavement. We then meet the downstairs tenants, Nick and Anna, who are about to embark on a trip to Switzerland. The less said about the unfolding narrative the better, as the echoing motifs and overlapping details in this moodily shot Austrian-Polish gem create a playful puzzlebox, the mystery of which deserves to remain unspoilt. The script, by Zglinski and Jörg Kalt, intertwines the supernatural with a personal drama about (in)fidelity that proves to be fiendishly clever: every time you think you’ve sussed it out or that an element seems be too heavily signposted, the script addresses it head-on, keeping you on your tippy-toes and firmly in the genre-literate hands of puppet-master Zglinski.
The script is also fertile ground for cinematographer Piotr Jaxa and editor Karina Ressler. The former crafts a threatening beauty reminiscent of Polanski’s best work. There are also shades of David Lynch, specifically in the purposeful doppelgänger qualities certain characters share, as well as a superbly nightmarish beat (which shall remain unspoilt) that could have been lifted straight from Lost Highway. As for Ressler’s precise editing, it may lead viewers to draw favourable comparisons with the splintered narratives at the heart of Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. And even if you don’t adhere to the final reveal, there’s enough suspense and moodiness to keep you hooked, as well as a chatty feline that will trigger feverish flashbacks of that chaos-loving fox in Antichrist. Well worth your time.
Tiere (Animals) | Directed by Greg Zglinski (Austria, Poland, 2017), with Birgit Minichmayr, Philipp Hochmair, Mona Petri. Starts Nov 16.
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