Horrible Imaginings Film Festival San Diego 2015
Forest, zombies, Germany, sounds like a match made in horror-comedy heaven. Caedes: Forestglade of Death, or Caedes – Die Lichtung des Todes, follows a group of friends as they go to Happy Camping for a weekend of relaxation and beer, lots of beer. Quickly a leader is established in Dan who approaches a blond babe named Leen only to be shot down. Everyone settles in, meets their camping neighbors, and parties all night. When morning comes, some awake with one hell of as hang over while others wake up as zombies, something clearly having happened overnight. Zombies go looking for food where they can, attacking the remaining campers who defend themselves as best they can. San and his friends Manesh, Jose, and Jorrun all survive along with Leen, Fritz, Tina, and a few others. This band of survivors then works together to live, finds the zombie source, and get out of there.
Caedes was written by Slavko Spionjak and Slovika Spionjak, the first having also directed. Both are new to fairly new to filmmaking and their inexperience doesn’t show much if at all. The film being a horror-comedy, some of the characters are exaggerated but not too much, some of their traits are amplified a bit for comedic affect but not to the point of parody or silliness. They still feel mostly like real people and their struggle to survive keeps the audience entertained. The choice of having zombies versus any other creatures may have been a bit predictable, but her it’s actually fun to watch the crew dispatch the zombies and even keep one alive for very logical reasons.
Also somewhat cliché when it comes to German baddies, we get Nazis searching for a way to live forever. These Nazi bad guys and girls are modern and can kick some ass, making their interactions with the good guys entertaining to watch. Speaking of fighting, the hand to hand combat between characters is enjoyable and well done, some of the actors, or their doubles, are training martial artists and it shows. However, one of the guys over relaying on kicking zombies and people in the face becomes repetitive quickly, but it’s only a minor complaint for this film. Most of the lead cast gets to kill some zombies and hurt some Nazis, which amps up the entertainment value here.
This cast is composed of a few actors fans of German television will be familiar with and it includes Bernhard Bozian as Dan the lead, Lena Baader as Leen, and Tobias Licht as Hans Gruber (yes, just like that German baddie). The ensemble cast here is talented and can do comedy well, something not all actors of their caliber can pull off. Their comedic timing and talent does not get lost in translation even when the subtitles may seem a bit off. The two stand outs here are Bernhard Bozian and Tobias Licht who give performances that make the viewer want to see them again. As the lead good guy and the lead bad guy, their chemistry works and their facing off is a good match up.
Surrounding the human versus human conflict are the zombies for whom the effects are good but not fantastic. They are fairly basic zombies, but some of their prosthetics are not on par with what horror fans are now used to seeing. The bites people suffer are well done, however a wider variety of locations and degrees of wounding/bloodletting would have been appreciated. One thing must be said here, the effects look to be mostly, maybe even all, and practical which is becoming rarer and rarer these days so their undertaking deserves to be recognized.
Caedes: Forestglade of Death is an entertaining, never boring zombie romp that works as a horror-comedy, something often attempted, not as often managed. In a cinematic period overflowing with the undead, this film is fun and easy to watch. If you speak German and can avoid the sub-titles, it could be a good party movie as well, definitely a film to watch with a group.