German filmmaker Hans- Christian Schmid’s Requiem plays like The Exorcist without the demons and projectile vomit. Though inspired by the same events that prompted last year’s Exorcism of Emily Rose, Schmid shuns the Hollywood horror approach, aiming for realism instead, leaving the audience to determine just how much of the devil is in the details.
Schmid’s direction is aloof, allowing events to unfold in an almost documentary fashion. The detachment gives Sandra HÃ¼ller space for a fantastic performance as Michaela Klinger, a recovering epileptic who worries that her seizures are caused by something more malevolent than chemical imbalances. There is definitely something sinister going on, but it could just as easily be Michaela’s reluctance to consider that it’s all in her head.
Equal parts psychological drama and religious examination, Requiem is exactly the sort of foreign gem that makes Calgary’s film fest so worthwhile. Judging from the number of empty seats in the Uptown when it screened, though, there should be quite a few people kicking themselves for missing this one when they had the chance.