So, before I talk about this movie, I want to talk about the title. This is an independent Australian film from 2018 and, when it was originally released, its title was Living Space. That’s not a particularly exciting title but it’s a title that goes along with the plot of the film and, in context of the story, it makes sense.
The film has since been retitled Nazi Undead. That’s the title that’s used on the imdb. That’s the title that’s used when it airs on Showtime and Starz. When I recorded the film, I specifically set the DVR to record Nazi Undead. I’m going to assume that it was felt that Nazi Undead was a more “commercial” title and I suppose it is. For me, I saw the title and I immediately thought of the great 70s zombie flick, Shock Waves. That said, it’s not a title that I plan on using in this review. Living Space may not carry the punch of Nazi Undead but it’s still a far more appropriate title for this film, which involves a very evil spirit but no actual zombies.
As for the film itself, it opens with two Americans tourists driving through Germany. Ashley (Georgia Chara) and Brad (Leigh Scully) should be having the time of their lives but they just can’t stop arguing. At one point, Brad even calls Ashley a “whore” and it’s shortly afterwards that a house appears in the distance. They’re having car trouble. Brad wants to go in the house and get help. Ashley is haunted by a horrific sense of deja vu and doesn’t want to. Brad orders her to enter the house.
It turns out that Ashley was right. The house is not a place you want to enter. The house was once owned by a Nazi officer (Andy McPhee) who, one night, murdered his entire family. His spirit is there and it’s still filled with the hatred and the sadism that fueled the Third Reich. Brad is killed. Ashley is next….
Suddenly, Ashley and Brad are sitting in the car again. The house is sitting in front of them. Ashley again has a horrific feeling of deja vu. Brad again orders her to go into the house. It’s a time loop, always starting with them at the car and always ending with a night of torture and death inside the house. Each time, Ashley’s sense of deja vu grows stronger. And each time, Brad is insistent that she enter the house….
It’s an interesting idea, really. The evil of the Nazis, the film seems to be saying, cannot just be forgotten and, due to stubbornness or willful blindness, we’re destined to suffer through their evil again and again unless people are willing to listen to and heed the warning signs. The film opens with a title card that explains the idea behind Hitler’s concept of a “living space,” that room had to be made for the Aryan people and, in order to make that room, all undesirables would have to be moved somewhere else. The house is a living space, one that is dominated not just by the evil ideology of its former inhabitant but also by the officer’s overwhelming hatred of women. (Both the ghost and Brad use the word “whore,” which suggests that the whole reason the house appeared was because of Brad’s uttering of that word. Brad and the ghost are in league, whether Brad realizes it or not.) Every time, it’s Ashley who know what waits inside the house and Brad who insists that she enter it….
If only the execution was as assured as the idea behind it! Georgia Chara does a good job in the role of Ashley but the rest of the cast is less impressive and, once they enter the house, the film sometimes seems to get so caught up in trying to duplicate other recent “torture” films that it runs the risk of trivializing exactly what it’s meant to condemn. The film has a lot of ambition and, flaws and all, I do look forward to seeing what Steven Spiel does next. Hopefully, whatever it is, it won’t get saddled with a name like Nazi Undead.