FrightFest 2011: ‘Urban Explorers’

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Urban Explorers

Directed by Andy Festscher

Germany, 2011 

Friday at FRIGHTFEST continued this year with the low budget underground German horror Urban Explorers. Be warned – this film is titled (both on IMDB and the print we saw) as Urban Explorer, but the director made a point of stating that it is actually called Urban Explorers and is not to be confused with the 2007 documentary Urban Explorers : Into the Darkness.

The plot centres around the fascinating ‘hobby’ of urban exploring – which a small group of people around the World participate in – entering dark, closed off urban environments such as abandoned warehouses, drainage systems, bunkers, and in this case; secret underground tunnels left over from the second World War.

It kicks off with an international group of early twenty-something’s in Berlin meeting up with a local guide called Kris for an illegal journey into the belly of the city where a labyrinth of tunnels and war rooms lie in wait, many sealed off and never before explored. Pretty soon an accident occurs and the group is split up as some go for help while the others wait with the victim. Out of the darkness comes Armin, an East German border guard who appears to be living in these dank subterranean fortifications and offers to help out. But things in these tunnels aren’t as they seem and a nightmarish game of cat and mouse ensues.

Desperate to be a combination of The Descent and Creep, Urban Explorers doesn’t have the panache or invention of either of those titles but is a handsomely made film that boasts some solid direction and effective moments. It ultimately fades into the endless list of former entries in this genre however. To be fair – it’s hard for me to judge it fully since our print began with no audio for the opening four or so minutes and then failed to provide subtitles for the lengthy German speaking segments in the latter half of the film. So my understanding of the lore and characters is somewhat shallow.

But from what I saw I have to say that it is was a fairly good little horror / thriller that sadly didn’t venture into the sub-genre that I was hoping for but had enough suspense, gore and tense moments to warrant a DVD rental. I’ll try to post another updated review if I ever manage to track down a fully subtitled version.

– Al White.

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