Luz is the debut feature from German filmmaker Tilman Singer. It is a promising tale that has a surprising start, interesting premise that loses its way halfway through the film and descends into a mass of confusion in its final act, raising more questions than answers that may annoy mainstream cinema viewers who are wanting a neat story all wrapped up at the end.
From a critic’s perspective this is a beautifully detailed, haunting experience that shows a promising entry for similar filmmakers like Ari Aster and Josh Tank. While Luz didn’t completely work, it has a solid premise and enough atmosphere to create something unique that works within its 64-minute runtime.
The story revolves around taxi driver Luz (Luana Velis) her back story is that she summoned a demon at her school, years prior, and now the demon wants to possess her again. There isn’t much more to reveal about the story without heading into spoiler territory, so I will leave the simple breakdown of the premise at that. It is worth noting that while the characters are central to the plot, the few set pieces (police station, bar) are dripping in the atmospheric mood firmly set by cinematographer Paul Faltz, which is a visual feast.
The dark and twisted visuals go together with the retro sounding score that Simon Waskow has lovingly wound. The small scale of the film ensures that front and centre is the mise-en-scene for both the actors and sets, a large part of telling the story and are great supplements to the script.
At about the 45-minute mark the film started to lose me. There are lines that cross different languages that I feel aren’t really there for any good reason. As the story is told, it feels like a little monologue and sadly not in a good way. The actors involved also appear a little disconnected from the material. The only exception is Luana Velis, who seems to understand the weird predicament her character is in. Her performance carries the film and her mesmerising delivery, particularly in the first 40 minutes, ensures the viewer is captivated.
Luz feels more like an over bloated short film that a fully-fledged movie, with some editing and trimming of the middle act, this film could have benefited from a tighter script. Pacing issues aside, Singer was able to showcase a supernatural horror story that firmly introduces his unique style of filmmaking to the industry. I will be very keen to see what he makes next.