Twitter Plot Summary: Rammbock. Berlin, Germany. The zombies are running rampant. But, more importantly, Michael has split up with Gabi. The horror… the horror!
Returning the keys to your ex-girlfriend’s flat is never a good situation to find yourself in. More so when you are yet to realise that what you once had has now been lost and can never be recovered. Such is the case with our unlikely hero, Michael in Rammbock. He is a lovesick fool who finds himself locked away in the flat of his ex, Gabi, right at the point where a zombie apocalypse begins. She isn’t there, but he meets a decorator who very quickly turns, and his young apprentice Harper who, er, doesn’t choose that particular moment to become one of the ravenous undead.
I first encountered Rammbock as a Netflix film a few years back, returning to it now having bought it on DVD. the UK title is Siege of the Dead, because apparently every zombie film has to use the “…of the Dead” suffix otherwise people might get confused and not realise it’s a zombie film. Because, clearly, a film called Rammbock is a heartwarming story about fluffy bunnies or something. Although saying that, there is a bunny in Gabi’s flat. Not much use in a zombie apocalypse, it has to be said.
The zombies here are red in face and the angry sprinters popularised by Danny Boyle (even though they’re technically not zombies) and Zack Snyder (which actually are zombies) that are a result of an infection, one that makes you a rabid beast due to increased adrenaline pumping through your body. They are used just often enough to be a threat, but not so much that their presence becomes tiresome. What we get are a number of edge of your seat moments enhanced by the relatively mundane surroundings Michael and Harper are in. The zombies also have an intriguing achilles heel – flash a light at them and they recoil in horror and/or pain.
The setup is almost the same as Rear Window but with zombies thrown into the mix instead of some strange dude bumping off the neighbours. Most of the zombie attacks are seen from Gabi’s flat window, as are many of the interactions between Michael and the other block residents. There are a lesser number of more direct zombie moments, all the more powerful thanks to Marvin Kren’s jittery direction.
Rammbock maintains tension by keeping its running time to a lean 62 minutes, with credits. It never tries to be more than the sum of its parts, namely a zombie film with a strong emotional core. Much like Simon Pegg’s Shaun, Michael is an unlikely and unconventional hero in every respect, but manages to rise up to the task of survival despite frequently putting himself and Harper into danger due to his lovesick mind. Not that he doesn’t have redeeming qualities – allowing Harper to use his phone to call his mother, or saving a vital piece of equipment essential for everyone’s survival, for example.
The remaining characters may be given very little to define them besides some very broad archetypal traits (the helpless woman, the angry selfish man, and so on), but they are essential support in order for Michael to complete his own journey, even if this means he never quite breaks away from his need for Gabi to reciprocate his affection.