REVIEW: WHERE THE WOODS END [AM ENDE DER WALD]

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Director: Felix Ahrens | Writer (s):Lucas Flasch, Felix Ahrens |  Producer: David Nienhold | Cast: Tom Keune, Henrike von Kuick and Anna Schinz.

Where the Woods End  is a student film, but let not the negative connotations, many of which nowadays are unfounded, deter you from this taster directed by writer/director Felix Aherns. Already an award winner (Silver student academy award) this film,  directed by Felix Ahrens (one to watch, of course) and co-written with Lucas Flasch (probably best to watch these two for future collaborations) this is a seriously nice bit of suspense drama.

We’re introduced to Armin (Tom Keune) and his somewhat impulsive partner Elke, a thirty-something police woman who, in the midst of a police chase and possible drugs bust of two suspected Czech nationals, makes a split second decision that results in a fatal consequence. The film immediately throws up the old but enthralling observation of life’s unpredictability, the grey area associated with human sensibility – how every second presents choices that can impact our lives in . Suspended from work but unable to wait out her sentence, Elke descends into pit concocted of self-pity, guilt and her inherent need to piece together any loose ends that may justify her actions, at best bring some closure.  When she doesn’t receive it, it’s her desperate and blatant arrogance that leads her into an even more woeful situation. Henrike Von Kuick in the lead role, is a bewitching vision. With her large ice blue eyes taking up most of her face, almost all of her emotions are played out through a suspicious flicker, glassy stare and wide-eyed and fear-stricken peepers. She’s a worthy lead, one that could perhaps draw comparison to the crime thriller leads Sara Lund and Saga Norén, all similar in their very human, very flawed characteristics: being workaholics and single women of a certain age.

Equally wonderful is Anna Schinz as Carolina the sister of one of the suspects; she’s a complex and interesting character, empathetic in her anger towards Elke but similarly blinded by her own sense of justification makes a split second decision that in turn comes full circle to ruin Elke’s life too.

Opening up on a stunning, if not a little ominous birds-eye-view of a dense woodland on the German/Czech border, it’s never revealed what kind of film this is going to be from the off. That’s fine, because throughout thirty minutes of suspenseful thrills we’re treated to (in no particular order) a character driven; psychological and in part, horror film with a little revenge thriller (a theme still so popular in today’s contentious unjust world) for good measure. It totally works, all of it and admittedly it’s a wonder, seeing as this is a short film, it doesn’t feel rushed and doesn’t particularly leave the audience (well not this one anyway) feeling unsatisfied or even needing to see more. It’s a neatly packaged engrossing bit of film, well acted and masterfully shot and cut.

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