Saturday, December 21

Bela Kiss: Prologue Review

Bela Kiss: Prologue
Dir: Lucien Förstner
Starring: Kristina Klebe and Rudolf Martin

There is an element of style that takes over Lucien Förstner’s “Bela Kiss: Prologue”, the assumed first film of a continuing story based on the myth behind the titled Hungarian serial killer. While the special effects consume the atmosphere during a portion of the narrative, there is also some really good photography and editing that makes the German production feel larger than it actual is. Förstner unfortunately extends the film, hurting the pacing of the slow churning serial killer tale, to an overlong 106 minutes. The pacing issue along with a mediocre script keeps “Bela Kiss” from exceeding expectations.

The film begins with a composed stock footage summary of the investigation into the crimes of serial killer Bela Kiss. The film quickly transitions into a diverging story about a group of bank robbers retreating to a hotel deep in the woods. While waiting for further orders from an unseen boss, the group partakes in the amenities of hotel run by the shadowy Ms. Jakubec (Julia Horvath). Julia (Kristina Klebe) is suspicious of Ms. Jakubec and her robbery team, one of which is her boyfriend. Julia’s misgivings unknowingly lead her to the discovery of secrets from the past.

There is a nice introduction with this film, one that establishes the folklore of Bela Kiss in a mysterious and somewhat supernatural manner. The film is split from this point on, mixing in the past evolution of Bela Kiss amidst the current account of the five bank robbers and their relationship with each other and the hotel they are staying in. These two atmospheres are portrayed with different techniques, in particular the events of the past which are composed with a heavy amount of CGI altercations and the events of the present which have a hazy over forced gothic touch. The photography is good and adds a strange perspective by making the hotel feel like a claustrophobic maze.

Unfortunately, the main problem with “Bela Kiss” exists with the storytelling, which is slow and not particularly inventive. The characters and their robbery situation are composed with a secretive attribute that is easily figured out. The character of Bela Kiss is forwarded through time in a method that undermines the story and feels like a setup for future films.  These character issues aren’t helped by the length and pacing of the film, which is inconsistent and lingering, but could be attributed to the largely German cast performing solely in English. Though amidst the problems is a familiar horror subgenre about a character that hasn’t been explored. The director should be accommodated for attempting to tell this film so ambitiously.

 While “Bela Kiss: Prologue” may not subvert the serial killer genre, there are glimpses of an interesting story underneath some distracting elements. The story of the homicidal Hungarian may continue, as the title suggests, which means there is always the hope that the sequel will be better than the first.

Monte’s Rating 
 2.00 out of 5.00

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