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Review: Toxic Lullaby (2010)

by Aaron Vaccaro – Head Writer

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Best Bad Quote:

“NEIN!”

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Not sure what the over/under was, but it took us exactly 304 days to review our first German zombie movie.  Hard to believe, I know, but Ralf Kemper’s Toxic Lullaby came to us as a German zombie film virgin, and left us a little sore.  Halfway through Toxic Lullaby I had no idea what was going on, then just as I started to get it and was on board, it lost me again at the end.

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Toxic Lullaby tells the story of the worst drug trip of all time.  Eloise, played by Samantha Richter, embarks on what starts out as a seemingly innocent road trip with a few friends.  While passing through an area of German farmland, she has a bizarre encounter with a farmer “fertilizing” the fields.  From there, things start to get weird.  Eloise and her friends decide to drink heavily and take some sort of hallucinogenic drug while enjoying nature.  Suddenly, Eloise wakes up in a stark gray, post-apocalyptic world where everyone is wearing gas masks.  Pretty fucking creepy, right?  Confused, Eloise is befriended by Bretoria, who takes Eloise under his wing, trying to protect in this world gone to shit.  Everyone is forced to wear gas masks due to poisonous toxins in the air that have led to a majority of the population turning into flesh-eating zombies (are there really any other kind?), or “sleepers” as they’re called in the film.  Eloise struggled to survive in a world where the “sleepers” might be the least of her worries.

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As I’m sure you all know, when watching a foreign film, the subtitles don’t always translate perfectly.  For me, the first forty-five minutes of this movie, the subtitles might as well have not been there at all, because I had no effing clue what was going on.  The movie meandered through two very different worlds without giving  any info as to what the hell I was looking at.  Finally, some exposition started being dished out around the midpoint, but seemed far too risky to wait that long to give your audience any substance to ground them in the story.  By that point, I fear many viewers might’ve already checked out.

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What Toxic Lullaby lacks in zombie makeup, it makes up for in practical gore FX.  I was more than pleasantly surprised with just how gory the movie turned out to be and how good the FX look.  Kudos to the film’s special FX guru.   Clearly, the majority of the filmmaker’s budget must’ve gone towards the FX because there are no elaborate locations, costumes, or lighting effects.  Toxic Lullaby actually almost felt like a dogma film in its minimalistic style, which helped in creating the creepy tone of the movie.   The acting was pretty decent in the film, considering I had no idea what the hell any of them were saying and the cinematography was impressive, making certain shots feel reminiscent of German Expressionism.

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I have no problem with zombie movies having a fatalistic ending, I just want said ending to make sense and unfortunately, the ending to Toxic Lullaby failed in that respect.  It felt like Kemper was trying to go for some unexpected twist without earning it.  The ending tries to provide answers, connecting dots that simply aren’t connectable.

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Overall, Toxic Lullaby is a valiant effort by Ralf Kemper to bring some originality to the zombie genre but winds up getting too caught up in its gore and disturbing imagery, sacrificing story in the process.  Although, I appreciate Kemper’s vision, I felt like the film could’ve benefited from a little more time in the story development stage.

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Rating:

3 out of 5 Naked Guys in the Forest

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