3 weeks ago I noticed that there was a sudden increase of talk surrounding a movie called The Keep. I remember adding it to my Netflix Instant on the second week but unable to watch because I had Internet and computer problems so I had to wait until this weekend. After finally watching it and taking note that this was one of Michael Mann’s first films, I’ve come to the conclusion that this movie is not a horror movie per say. Sure it has some frightening scenes but I think it’s more of a sci-fi film than anything. It’s funny because, though it looks like it takes place in space or another planet it actually takes place on Earth during World War II. What makes it more of a science fiction film than horror? I think it boils down to the production design.
One scene in particular was very reminiscent of Blade Runner because it had the same grey, bland, geometric building design as seen in that movie. It looked as though the Keep was some otherworldly building that held a power that could have been extraterrestrial. The scene had two soldiers opening a block within a wall so that they could steal a silver idol. Before hand, a column of piercing white light shined right in front of the soldier was as if God, or even aliens, themselves provided a gateway into another world. I find it funny, the story takes place on Earth but every time they have interior scenes within the Keep… it felt like they were on another planet and maybe that was the point.
There are several scenes that feel as though they were inspired by Alien’s apocalyptic, gritty, nourish qualities. One scene showed a vast area of monolithic structures with a landscape that was dead and lonely. However, I think the best depiction of apocalyptic sci-fi imagery comes when the Nazi general confronts the evil force in it’s human-like form and scenery is grim and torn… it mirrors the aftermath of when Poland fell to the Nazi blitzkrieg. The land is covered in fog, dead and burned up Nazi bodies are sprinkled across the ground, and large, twisted vehicles are scattered around. It looked war-torn and it felt as though a bomb was dropped on area. Hell, it felt like another world; like this giant battle on another planet took place and nobody survived. The similarities are uncanny. It’s a great blend of World War II and gothic landscapes. It was filmed in black and white; it could have been a great sci-fi noir film.
Even Molasar, the demon that lives within the Keep, looks sort of otherworldly and less demonic like. Sure he has the red eyes and deep bellowing voice but his physical appearance is muscular and grey, sort of like he is wearing a body suit or armor. His neck and upper chest have tube like appendages that connect with his body, maybe giving it the impression that he needs these tube appendages to breath with. His face is like a mask or a helmet for when he is in battle. I just find his human-like manifestation very similar to that of prehistoric astronauts and spacemen from other planets.
However you look at it, it’s very hard to classify this film as a horror for me because it doesn’t look like a horror movie. The tone of the imagery is gothic but the landscape is outer-terrestrial. But than again, Alien has this same imagery that was horror. I think the only thing that I can conclude with The Keep is that it is a film that falls in between sci-fi and horror. One thing is for certain, what Molasar does to the Nazis could be considered payback for their invasion of Poland… and that’s poetic justice.
My review of The Keep.