Review: Urban Explorers (18) / Director: Andy Feyscher / Screenplay: Martin Thau / Starring: Nathalie Kelley, Nick Eversman, Klaus Stiglmeiler, Max Riemelt / Release Date: 5th March
Have you ever walked past a sealed door or tunnel and wondered what lay beyond? That’s the premise for Urban Explorers, which uses the plot point of investigating closed off areas in urban settlements. In this case, a group of young foreigners meet up with a guide to search the underground tunnels of Berlin, to try and find some rare World War II era graffiti and trinkets.
Denis (Eversman) and his girlfriend Lucia (Kelley) enlist the services of Kris (Riemelt) to aid their little illegal subterranean adventure and have two other girls, Marei and Juna, tag along for the ride. After bumping into a couple of red herring neo-Nazis, the group carry on to their destination and find a room that was bricked off to ensure that no-one would ever see it again. If the film-makers didn’t add any props to the tunnels that the characters find themselves in, then the Nazis planned to stay down there for quite a long time. There’s a piano for a start! There also appears to be an old shooting range where spent bullets lay strewn across the floor. It is quite unnerving to know that all this happened for real underground.
It is on their return from their destination that things go a bit awry. When Kris suffers a fall which leaves him immobile and unconscious, Marie and Juna are sent to find help. Denis and Lucia stay behind with their prone guide, with Lucia doing what she can with her nursing skills. From out of nowhere, a stranger appears. Supposedly retired border guard Armin (Stiglmeier – who looks like the bastard love child of Scott Glenn and Klaus Kinski) helps them back to his underground home and calls for help. Of course, like with any film of this nature, Armin isn’t really there to help. The phone line isn’t actually connected and Denis and Lucia find themselves in a fight for their lives, trying to escape their crazed captor – who still seems to think that there is an active border in Berlin - and navigate the labyrinthine tunnels that they find themselves in.
The film is shot, refreshingly, without using the worn cliché of found footage. Instead the camera utilises the darkness well, creating an eerie and claustrophobic setting. There are moments where you are reminded of Creep and Midnight Meat Train, although this probably has more to do with the setting than anything else, and the whole film is quite unsettling. Of course, as with any horror film – good or bad – the ending is left open for a sequel in an apparent nod to the ending of Neil Marshall’s The Descent. With what you have seen before, that might not be a bad thing.
If you like your horror dark and disturbing, then Urban Explorers may be right up your alley.