Nope, it’s not a German remake of a Sylvester Stallone movie. Rammbock is actually a short and effective zombie film. And by short, I mean, like, an hour long.
This film doesn’t have time to be tongue-in-cheek, self-referential, or comedic. This is straight up zombie horror. It definitely has the feel of many horror films of the past decade: [REC] / Quarantine, 28 Days (and Weeks) Later, Mulberry Street… Not a bad list of films to feel like, if you ask me.
There’s no time for a slow burn here. In Rammbock, a nice fellow comes to Berlin to confront his girlfriend, who asked for him to return the key to her apartment. No sooner is he in the apartment and unable to find her than he is being attacked by a demon-eyed, foaming mouthed handyman! As if they’ve had experiences with zombies before, the nice fellow and some teen kid don’t hesitate to barricade the apartment door to lock zombies—oh, sorry, the infected—out.
All the zombie action takes place in the apartment building and the alley-like courtyard in the center of the building. The few characters in the film are in apartments on either side of the courtyard, and most of their interaction is just exchanges out the windows. A television news report (isn’t that always the go-to exposition source?) reveals that it’s an unexplained virus, people are biting each other, to stay indoors, and, if you’re bitten—the illness isn’t activated unless you have a rush of adrenaline! Nice.
So food isn’t the only commodity in this small building. And of course, not all the tenants have the supplies they need, so it’s only a matter of time before they have to venture out of their apartments and into other apartments! This becomes one nail-biting flick as our characters go hunting for Valium!
HOLY SHIT. The infected are super creepy and gnarly looking, fast runners, and persistent. As the action builds, our heroes get themselves trapped in the tightest of corners—which leads to one of the most intense jump scares ever.
As the survivors try to figure out a way to get the hell out of this apartment building, the story of the nice fellow’s deteriorating relationship comes back into play. You REALLY expect this one to have a nice juicy revenge twist to it, but you get an ending you wouldn’t expect. It’s one of those, “they went there???” moments. It definitely reminds me of the depictions of the emotional lives of the characters in Mulberry Street.
There’s pretty much nothing to dislike about Rammbock if you’re a fan of the zombie/infected genres. The hour run time is perfect if you just want some zombie to nibble on. And there are a couple of unique additions to the genre—like a fixation with a bear suit and a pet bunny. Most important is a 7-minute bonus feature on the DVD that is a must-watch. As if to make up for there being no “Shaun of the Dead” humor in the film itself, We get a short featuring an airline attendant type woman instructing us on how to survive a zombie attack in the movie theater. It’s campy, it’s gory, it’s entertaining, and it’ll give you some chuckles. It’s sort of the movie adaptation of The Zombie Survival Guide. And damn, the zombie makeup is good! And look out for the guy in the Empire Strikes Back T-shirt.
And finally, what does Rammbock even mean, you ask? It means “battering ram,” “rammer,” or “pile-driver.” Good thing the title was in German, or I would have expected a very different kind of film….