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A Movie A Week #17: Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps

Sentunchi? Sennanichi? Senterparks?  This Euro-horror may be a bit of a mouthful but it’s one that’s worth ingesting. With Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps, director Michael Steiner chaperones Switzerland’s first genre movie to the big screen with style. Part murder mystery, part grizzly fairytale it’s duel story lines combine nicely to form a memorable and impressive debut.

The Alps, 1975.  After the questionable suicide of a local priest and the sudden appearance of a peculiar young woman, townsfolk superstitions are quickly uprooted. Thought to be somehow linked to the recent tragedy, this mysterious beauty is disliked by everyone except Reusch, a trusting cop with a troubled past. Meanwhile, inside a remote shack on a nearby hilltop, a trio of lonely farmers drunkenly dabble with the supernatural.  Their goal? To create the mythical Sennentuntschi: a straw-woman given life by the devil to see to their every need.

Once alive, this sexy Frankenstein’s monster is used and abused by her testosterone-fuelled captors. However, it’s not long before she takes her bloody revenge on anyone who crosses her path. Thanks to some plucky detective work, Reursch discovers that these events are connected and that the mysterious woman he’s taken under his wing may have a deadly secret.

Despite an unnecessarily disjointed storyline, Steiner crafts a beautifully shot and well thought-out horror that keeps you guessing.  Stellar performances from Nicholas Ofczarek as doomed copper Reusch and Roxane Mesquida as the oh-so innocent but oh-so deadly Sennentuntschi force you to sit up and pay attention.

And you’ll be glad you did, if only to admire the thing.  Cinematographer Pascal Walder makes this a treat for the eyes, filling every scene with dark fairytale iconography. Speckled mushrooms, stone cottages, rolling rural landscapes – they’re all here and begging to be gawped at.  It’s by no means perfect but Sennentuntschi: Curse of the Alps will no doubt leave you eager for more. Who knows, horror movies could become the next top Swiss export. Watch out Toblerone.

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