Directed by: #LucaParis
Written by: #LucaParis
Programme hacker Alex works in a room full of monitors which reveal the ins and outs of many lives. His partner, Alice, has recently left him and, to distract from his depression, he turns his focus to the design of a social network which helps people confront fears and dream-nightmares: the Denkraum.
This Italian thriller went on to win four awards at the 2020 Creation International Film Festival, earning praise for director and writer Luca Paris, visual FX by Matteo Accurso and sound design by Michele Flori. One of the first noticeable elements which immediately strikes you as the viewer is certainly the impressive sound design of the film, featuring a pumped up exciting electronic score which fuels the adrenalin of snappy edits. Flori also grounds the movie in the sinister science fiction/dystopia tone by consistently incorporating effective use of distortion in dialogue and the glitch sound effect of technology.
Luca Paris makes the inspiring choice to utilise on screen text messaging to explore the relationship, or lack there of, between characters and the advancements of the social network system. Less reliance is made on dialogue driven conversations shot in static motions, making for a less conventional approach and leaning towards a heavily stylised indie flick. For example, the death of a character early on in the film is handled quietly, with the focus remaining on our protagonist as he observes the blood dripping from her mouth and around the glass of milk she was drinking, presented through a distorted lens.
Denkraum (2020) poster
The film definitely experiments with an inventive visual aesthetic, making use of a green colour grading, disorientating camera angles and plenty of sequences shot with hand held. Everything always feels quite surreal and dreamlike due to the unpredictable nature of its loose narrative, combined with eerie ambience which features heavily throughout the running time, making for some unsettling viewing. These elements, to an extent, do distract from an otherwise low budget appearance to the movie.
However, the lack of any clear focus and straightforward momentum to the narrative is also its downfall. The experimental style eventually becomes repetitive and tiring, suggesting the film needed cutting down, as at only an hour and twenty minutes, lethargy is unfortunately present by the time the credits roll around. The film does become more interesting during the final ten minutes where a sinister religious cult becomes a significant focus of the story, which we are briefly shown flashes of throughout for good foreshadowing. The overall tone can be unpleasant and vulgar at times due to to derogatory comments made towards woman, even by those of the same sex, which does seem intentional in favour of the dark plot, but can become too crude to tolerate after a while.
Overall, Denkraum offers visual flair and an enticing sound design which both deserve praise, but a clunky screenplay with a stimulating ending that appears too late to redeem, ultimately hinders the final product.