“In a flash of blood-drenched violence, Crystal Brewer’s life has taken an unexpected turn. On the run from the law for her part in a gruesome drug-money heist gone wrong, she has become seduced into a seedy underworld of death and betrayal. Escaping into the night with her half-sister Kim, Crystal seeks refuge in a small Midwestern town to make sense of her life-threatening ordeal. However, any plans for solace are soon derailed when she crosses paths with Frank Logan, a mysterious stranger with a bloody history of his own. Crystal’s initial intrigue with Logan’s sinister allure soon gives way to sheer terror as his vile intentions for her are revealed. As a new wave of violence threatens to destroy those close to her, Crystal is forced to make a terrifying decision. Will she stop Logan before more innocent blood is spilled? Or will she join him in resurrecting an evil that could consume the world?”
Ok, I just got done reviewing the excellent Scrapbook, starring Emily Haack and directed by mastermind of modern terror Eric Stanze, so I am ready now to put forth the review for Ratline – starring Emily, Jason Christ and directed by Eric Stanze.
In my mind, neither Emily nor Eric can do wrong when it comes to these types of films, but this film surprised even me (a fan!).
A “ratline” refers to escape routes used by Nazis after the end of World War II as they fled Europe. What does that have to do with any sort of horror or exploitation film?
Well, in the mind of writer/director Eric Stanze it has a lot to do with both. Stanze took a story about the Nazi SS Paranormal Division or the “Ahnenerbe” and added a slasher-type twist to it. It’s a brilliant idea that marries exploitation, horror and suspense into a truly sick union here!
Frank Logan, the fake name used by a former Nazi officer in charge of investigating the supernatural and dark magic for der Führer, is alive in present day and hasn’t aged since the 1940s due to the magic. He is in search of a particular Swastika that he and his villainous cohorts put the hoodoo on back in the day and it is now a source of great power. While looking for the flag, he tracks down a small town mayor and son of one of his former partners, who he believes has the magical totem. In that same town is a family member who he hopes to draft into his diabolical plans.
There is a lot more to the plot but I don’t want to spoil too much. Lots of twists, turns and gore later, you are left wanting more of the story.
Ratline is a stark, unflinching and gory film that plays the potentially cheesy story with a mean-ass straight face.
The look and feel of the movie is almost on par with those uncomfortably graphic art-house movies that most of us know and love.
Stanze shows things that make most filmmakers flinch, like full nudity of men and women shown in a way that makes you want to turn your head because it seems like you really shouldn’t be seeing it.
I love his use of actors and actresses who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty.
The bad guy “Frank”, played by Jason Christ who also co-wrote the screenplay, is a menacing, maniacal killer who just oozes evil and he has a fucking epic beard.
Emily Haack who plays “Crystal” is a fearless actress who can go from violent bad-ass to helpless victim to soft, sexual plaything in just one scene.
But my favorite actress/actor of the entire movie (not including Emily) is the quiet, cute yet somehow seductively sultry Sarah Swofford (“Penny”), now my new horror female crush, who steals every scene she is in. Just try to not look into her big, dark eyes when she’s on screen!
All of the actors played their parts with surprising skill, something you don’t always see in low-budget horror, especially the really hardcore stuff.
10 out of 10 – Eric Stanze and co. deliver another masterpiece!