Skip to main content

FrightFest 2014: The Samurai reaction

A dark German fairytale that dabbles in cross-dressing, latent sexuality and – yes – katana -wielding, The Samurai is one of the most daring and stylish, if flawed, films we've caught at FrightFest.

Awash in shadow-dappled imagery and boasting a pair of fantastic lead performances, the story begins with police officer Jakob (Michel Diercks) going into the woods to leave a sack of bloody meat for a wolf.

Later, he receives a mysterious package for a man living in the woods. When he goes to deliver it, he encounters The Samurai (Pit Bukowski), a sinewy cross-dresser with a bloody vendetta against Jakob's hometown.

Blood and boobs are pretty much synonymous with FrightFest (and horror in general), which makes The Samurai a refreshingly masculine presence at this year's festival.

Its dedication to exploring male sexuality is commendable, and for a while, The Samurai 's dangerous, ponderous atmosphere carries it through the lack of an obvious plot as The Samurai hacks his way through the locals Jakob's sworn to protect.

The film is flawed, though. Director Till Kleinert is fixated on his central metaphor and never plays up the mythological elements enough to excuse some of the leaps in logic.

There's also a sense that the audience is being kept at arm's length for no reason other than to keep the metaphor intact.

The Samurai' s remoteness will no doubt frustrate casual cinema-goers, despite the buckets of blood. In the plus column, it has some hugely inventive imagery, and Diercks and Bukowski share blood-boiling chemistry.

In short: a flawed, beautifully-crafted oddity that suggests Kleinert and his stars are ones to keep an eye on.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.