Mutation (1999) Review

Mutation 1999 posterTimo Rose, who went on to direct nearly two dozen other films, including VIOLENT SHIT 4 a.k.a. KARL THE BUTCHER VS. AXE with Andreas Schnaas, began his directorial filmography by partnering with Marc Fehse on the first entry of what would become a trilogy. MUTATION begins as a mockumentary of sorts, much like the made-for-TV documentaries that we watched in school as kids, to establish a “Nazi chemical warfare” backdrop for the film.

Almost 20 minutes in, the mockumentary ceases, and all of the seemingly straightforward foundational premise is obliterated when it moves on to some guy performing some form of dark magic ritual. What follows is a film packed with scenes that seem to have no connection, and a story that makes less sense than the sum of its parts. In other words: no matter how hard you try, it’s nearly impossible to make heads or tails of the characters and plot points in MUTATION. One thing is clear as mud however: there are several things that walk and talk like zombies, but may or may not be zombies. It’s a mess, really. But on the other hand, there’s plenty of the gore splatter fans crave.

There aren’t any standout performances, because there is very little face time with any one of the characters. I don’t even think I could pick any one of them out of a lineup. The lack of any even minor form of character development makes it extremely difficult to form any sort of connection with the story, which in turn makes everything all the more confusing. But, gore.

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The directing, editing, and cinematography are all highly amateur, and create a collage of awkward fades, clumsy shots, and completely unexplained transitions. There are also an unfortunate amount of absurd digital effects used for blood spurts, gaping wounds, and even some of the monster design. But! Gore.

As one would expect (at least by now from my constant mention of it), the gore is the upside of the film. From rotting zombie face makeup to severed limbs, it’s loaded with great practical effects directly in-line with the more popular German splatter films. As I’ve already mentioned however, there are several cases that early CG was used in place of practical effects. That creates a good deal of inconsistency in the effects, but still even the digital gore is done in such a way that it adds another level of cheesy goodness to the movie.

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All in all, MUTATION is an absolute mess, but it’s a gory mess that may well be enjoyed by a very particular type of viewer. Love the VIOLENT SHIT films? You’re probably that type of viewer. And good news, I’m that type of viewer. So for those of you who can enjoy nonsensical scenes of brain-exploding, limb-ripping, gut-munching, face-shredding, innard-removing, gory violence, MUTATION has that sort of cult German splatter charm that makes the subset so fun to watch. It’s absurd, a chunk of the effects are unsatisfying thanks to early CG, and the story is nonsense (I can’t stress this enough), but somewhere in that heaping pile of a crudely pieced together stream of consciousness there’s that certain inexplicable appeal for fans of this kind of gory schlock. So take that for what it is, neither a recommendation nor a deterrent.

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