Wide World of Horror: ‘Requiem’



requiem 2006

Written by Bernd Lange
Directed by Hans-Christian Schmid
Germany, 2006

Twisting, turning, and contorting are the stuff of a common exorcism film. Ever since the debut of The Exorcist the focus in just about every exorcism film to hit the market has been on the effects of the possession. Requiem is different in that while there is some contorting, screaming, and eerie mannerisms present they are by no means the focus. Excuses are the main course in Requiem, the excuses we make to ourselves and the excuses that others make for us. This has an interesting effect on the film a
s it removes most of the traditional horror elements of an exorcism film. The horror in requiem is based in ignorance, selfishness, and lack of action/too much action. There’s no real way to decipher which approach to an exorcism film is more effective, but Requiem certainly found a way to make the topic of exorcism feel fresh.

The pace of Requiem is languid and almost idyllic. This makes the moments when the main character, Michaela Klingler, does have an attack all the more jarring. The film moves at a pace that lulls the viewer into a false sense of security. The chances of anything happening to Michaela have to be minimal because of how serenely her life is playing out. Sure, we see her taking medicine, there is an eerie vibe, and hints in the story, that give away the fact that something is up. All the same, events within the film progress in such a logical and natural manner that when things go sour it is shocking.

In addition to the serenity, the fine performance of Sandra Hüller as Michaela is a large reason for why Requiem moves beyond being a traditional exorcism story. Michaela isn’t the all too easy stereotype of the repressed religious nut job. Michaela is a fully realized woman, with hopes and dreams that should carry her away from her small town life. She’s also an extremely easy character to like and to feel sorry for when bad things start happening. Frau Hüller shows a high level of conviction in her performance. She is vulnerable, yet she is also headstrong. Michaela is partly responsible for what befalls her while also being a women wrapped up in events beyond her control. When Michaela does fall back on religion for refuge from her problems it’s frustrating because we know, through the performance, she is better than that. If not for the well mannered, and nuanced performance from Sandra Hüller Requiem would not have been half the film it turned out to be.


Requiem is a taut and well made horror film. The horror elements of the film aren’t out there for everyone to see. This isn’t the easy type of horror film where seconds after turning it on the viewer can say, “Oh, this is a horror film.” Anyone watching Requiem will have to do some digging and go deeper to truly explore the horrific themes of the film. Hans-Christian Schmid has made an exorcism film that isn’t really about an exorcism or a possession. In exploring how we can lie to ourselves and create excuses for our medical or social problems Herr Schmid has produced a finely crafted horror film. It’s been overlooked ever since it came out, and underrated even by those who have seen it, but any horror fan who is interested in more than a standard exorcism story should enjoy Requiem.

-Bill Thompson

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