The origins of the horror genre can be traced back to
, and the most successful of
early American horror films often imitated them. The success of American horror
relied on the imitation of German filmmaking, so it is disheartening to watch Heilstätten, a film which simply feels
like a cheap German imitation of The
Blair Witch Project. Derivative in every aspect of filmmaking and
narrative, Heilstätten has a few
sincere scares but offers absolutely nothing new to the genre. Even in terms of
the sub-genre of found-footage horror, it lacks any originality beyond a clever
third-act twist. Germany
The premise of the story which brings a group of deserving victims to the notoriously haunted asylum that has long been condemned is also the set-up for the found-footage format. They are all YouTubers looking to go viral with increasingly offensive and immature stunts, and the latest has them daring each other to stay in the surgery block of the hospital for a full 24 hours. Once the sun goes down, mysterious activity begins and progresses until the social media vultures are scared enough to try and escape. Of course, they are never scared enough to put down the cameras, giving reason for the found-footage format to continue for the course of the film.
I could provide details about each of the individual YouTubers, but it doesn’t really matter. In one way or another, they are all pretty awful. The film is stacked with obnoxious YouTuber behavior, clearly modeled after specific types (beauty vloggers, idiots like Jake Paul, etc.). It is easy to long for the scenes when they are picked off by the supernatural villain. The first 30-minutes of the film are nearly unbearable, in that it only contains scenes of these YouTube channels. The film doesn’t really begin until the horror is introduced and these obnoxious characters are scared into shutting up. And even then, it drags at 90-minutes long. There are enough true scares in the running time for a short film, but the feature film feels padded with annoying dialogue by flat characters doomed to be victims.
The only bonus features that the Blu-ray release have are an English-language dubbing and a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4.5/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Special Features: 1/10