“Whilst researching the effects of climate change in the German Alps, a team of scientists are shocked when a glacier starts leaking a blood red liquid. When the local wildlife begins mutating, the team believe that they are onto the scientific discovery of the century. However, they soon realise that the mutation is spreading at an alarming rate and with the wildlife minister on her way to examine their findings; things do not look good for their research station.”
- Gerhard Liebmann – Janek
- Edita Malovcic – Tanja
- Hille Beseler – Birte
- Peter Knaack – Falk
- Felix Romer – Harald
- Brigitte Kren – Ministerin Bodicek
With Stunning imagery, intense pacing and an overpowering atmosphere of hopelessness and dread, Austrian creature feature The Station is a work of art echoing John Carpenter’s The Thing and Ridley Scott’s Alien and is a must-see for any fans of the genre.
- Ministerin Bodicek taking a power drill to the head of a goat-headed mutant.
The film originally known as Blutgletscher was directed by Marvin Kren who reunites with Rammbock collaborator Benjamin Hessler, who pens the script. The German language feature stars Gerhard Liebmann and Edita Malovcic as the leads Janek and Tanja with Helle Beseler, Peter Knaack, Felix Romer and Brigitte Kren in supporting roles.
Whilst researching the effects of climate change in the German Alps, a team of scientists are shocked when a glacier starts leaking a blood red liquid. When the local wildlife begins mutating, the team believe that they are onto the scientific discovery of the century. However, they soon realise that the mutation is spreading at an alarming rate and with the wildlife minister on her way to examine their findings; things do not look good for their research station.
I watched The Station last night as the third film in the FrightFest 2013 All-Nighter selection and it was easily the highlight of the evening compared to remake of Patrick starring Sharni Vinson and Charles Dance, disco-themed Canadian slasher DiscoPath and Nothing Left To Fear from the production company of legendary guitarist Slash (Guns N Roses, Velvet Revolver). The rest of the audience were equally spellbound by the movie and after the rather disappointing Patrick and DiscoPath, the mood was lifted despite the late showing time (3am).
The most instantly impressive aspect of The Station is the beautiful landscapes as the film was shot in South Tyrol (an autonomous German-speaking province in Northern Italy) which sits at the bottom of the Alps. The mountains look gorgeous and Kren wastes no time with huge, roaming helicopter shots emphasising the desolate wildness where the research station is based. The team are thoroughly in the middle of nowhere.
The pacing can drags a little at the beginning but once you start to really get a feel for the characters, the film really sucks you in. The humans actually have their own storylines which are just as interesting and mysterious as what caused the mutants and why they are attacking. Janek and Tinni (his dog) have a beautiful relationship which is wonderfully explored and when his former girlfriend Tanja is introduced, it builds upon their relationship and embellishes it rather than taking away the focus away. The ambiguous morality of the scientists and their rift with Janek is another terrifically interesting sub-plot that doesn’t get started until around the 20 minute mark but once it does, it really flies.
The mutants themselves are an interesting idea which suffers from inadequate special effects and poor execution. The mysterious red liquid from the glacier contains special mutagenic organisms that take the DNA from once creature, combine it within another and then rapidly produce a single offspring of the new mutant hybrid. Up in the hills there are foxes, goats, falcons, woodlice and other critters that we all get to see mutated together and the final scene of the film is a fantastic pay-off to several storylines where the audiences gets to see the greatest hybrid of all time which I won’t spoil here. Sadly though, the mutants’ practical effects are strangely stoic and lifeless whilst the CGI is distractingly poor. To try and make up for this, the film-maker edited the mutant attacks with super-fast quick cuts which is disorientating and confusing. As a result, you never get a clear look at the mutants which certainly makes them more tantalising and scary but leaves the audience without an iconic image of the monsters.
The acting is superb with Gerhard Liebmann putting in a fantastic performance as Janek, who is first introduced as being unruly and dishevelled (and a potential substance abuser) but really shines as the beacon of morality amongst the more devious scientists and ultimately his focus lays on simply getting everyone out of the situation alive. His scenes with Tinni are the most touching and contain the emotional punch of the film while the mystery of what happened between him and Tanja is absolutely gripping.
Edita Malovcic also puts in a very emotional performance as Tanja, who facing her demons by returning to the station and being reunited with Janek for the first time in several years. Both are extremely anxious to see each other again which adds an extra layer of tension to the events. Helle Beseler, Peter Knaack and Felix Romer star as the actual scientists Birte, Falk and Harald who show their true nature when they discover the brevity of their discovery.
However the star of the show is Brigitte Kren as the wildlife minister Bodicek who is first introduced as the bodyguard-needing politician that struggles to keep up with the hiking but as soon as stuff starts going wrong turns into a drill wielding, surgery operating, level-headed, no nonsense badass. If I had to be trapped in that situation, I stay very close to Ministerin Bodicek.
It’s cliché destroying moments like these that really push The Station to be that much better than most creature features. Even with its questionable special effects, the thrilling storyline, incredible tension, great direction, diverse characters and constantly increasing threat create a wonderfully atmospheric piece of art. Too few films strive for the visually stunning degree of professionalism and complexity that The Station achieves. Whilst it may sadden me that a lot of previously-thought-to-be-good creatures now look an awful lot worse compared to this, I am all the happier that a film such as The Station exists at all.