Luz follows the titular cab driver (Luan Velis), who is stalked by an infatuated demonic entity she once incanted into being. It was the thesis project of German film student Tilman Singer, who wanted to capture the tone of now-classic 1980s Euro-horror.
To Singer’s credit, Luz loses itself so completely in sound and image that it achieves a life beyond its intentions, a finished film that is engrossing, weird, off-putting and subsequently unforgettable. For the number of film students each year who try to tell genre stories, few manage to set themselves apart in a popular culture drowned dead in the artifice of aesthetic homage. This is one of them.
Explaining the plot is beyond the point. Within the story there is a recurring phrase spoken by several characters, the words found in the incantation spoken to bring the demon into our world. Like the incantation, Luz moves like a slowly spoken mantra. Memories are discovered, spliced and re-discovered. Kisses are the vehicle for possession, physically and emotionally. Some describe it as a “lesbian love story,” a reasonable reading if that’s what the viewer is looking for. Luz is state of mind. It’s a soundscape. A visual trance.
One comparison is Beyond the Black Rainbow, but not 60 hours long and endlessly ponderous. Luz moves fast. It takes place across three or four small locations. Singer uses wide shots to establish presence and close-ups to capture emotion. It’s not so much that his technique is unique but it does feel experienced, mercurial, purposeful. He’s so successful at creating tension that never needs gore, graphics or plot to convey the tone. Unlike many of his genre predecessors, the movie never dives into the realm of taboo or excessive gore to punctuate sequences for the audience. Whether this is authorial or budgetary restraint, it only makes the experience harder to categorize and thus special in its own way.
The audience for something like Luz is small, classically “arthouse,” drawn to this tale of possession by the drive of film obsessives looking to find a hidden gem, their next unexpected jolt of creative experience. If you’re one of those, find this one as soon as you can. It’s sure to find a happy home on Shudder amongst its kind, and it’s a worthy addition.