Also known by the better, but oddly singular title Urban Explorer; on the other hand, The Depraved sounds oddly plural even though it’s really only one depraved guy. The victims are mostly normal people that you don’t hate immediately — a rarity which earns this film an extra star immediately.
We start off with a few quick shots of Berlin that don’t really establish anything other than the location, and are strangely framed. We see the Fernsehturm Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate, and one shot of some random graffiti (with a branch in the foreground that is, as an artistic choice, roughly equivalent to a boom mike in the frame). We meet the first two explorers in a cafe with some really bizarre dialog:
Marie: Are you sending a love message to your boyfriend? Juna (smiling): My boyfriend? He committed suicide. Marie (concerned): Suicide? Juna: I hope so!
Juna notices that Marie has a camera to document the night’s adventure. To the relief of most viewers, it is not a hand-held video camera. To the relief of Nikon, it is a Canon. Juna grabs a waiter, plants one on him, and suggests that Marie take a photo to send to her boyfriend. OK, you do kind of hate Juna immediately.
Next we meet Denis and Lucia sitting on top of an abandoned car, waiting for the others to join them. Lucia is shocked, shocked that Denis did not tell her the other two were women. Finally, their guide Dante arrives. He leads them through a club to the portals of the underground.
For dubious reasons, everyone is going by a nickname. Luckily the characters are few and distinct enough that it is easy to keep track of 1) real name, 2) nickname, and 3) nationality (as they are all from different places). But having the Asian girl not be the one nicknamed Haiku is just tricky.
Dante is going to lead them to the Fahrerbunker where Hitler’s chauffeurs hung out. He promises lots of interesting artifacts, wall-drawings and graffiti. The government has sealed it off because they don’t want Neo-Nazis enshrining it.
There is a dust-up with a couple of musclekopfs that really amounts to nothing. It does at least emphasize that there will be dangers other than rats, bats, eels and crumbing infrastructure. Not sure how bats are getting into this sealed catacomb, but it was nice to see them.
During a rest break, Dante tells them about the Reichflugscheibe which is supposedly a spacecraft built by the Nazis. Experiments were conducted on the crew. They eventually went mad and turned on the doctors. And some say they still roam these tunnels to this day . . . BWAH-HA-HA!!! Dante actually seems to believe this as a reason for the extensive tunnel system. It’s a German-thing, he explains.
After viewing the Nazi art collection & gift shop, they start back. Dante is the last one across a thin metal beam crossing a chasm, looking like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade. Fortunately, the Grail Knight did not pop a flash in Indy’s face causing him to fall to certain death (although, he would have earned a place in heaven for sparing us Indy IV). Sadly, Marie goes full-paparazzi, sending Dante south to the next level of Hell.
Marie and Juna go to get help as Lucia and Denis try to help Dante. This where the fun would start in most movies, after slogging through 40 minutes of set-up. But kudos here for making it so interesting up to this point with great atmospherics, a couple of chills and Nazi UFOs.
A new character drops in — literally — rappelling into the pit (because apparently everyone but me can rappel like Reinhold Meisner). Naturally, he throws a scare into Denis & Lucia; when it appears to be Ron Perlman, he throws a scare into the audience. This does not portend good things, but luckily it turns out to be Klaus Stiglmeier (who we hope is not known as the German Ron Perlman).
The rest of the film plays out with twists, chases, suspense — everything you could hope for. By now, it is almost impossible to come up with anything new. It is enough to just just tell your story in the best way possible. The Depraved pretty much pulls this off. Recommended, just be prepared for Martyrs-like gore.
- There are several DVD covers online under the original title, but only one has the plural.
- Fernsehturm Berlin sounds impressive until you realize it is basically a TV antenna. It ain’t the Burj Khalifa.
- China, ahead of us again — now building new abandoned cities.
- Ron Perlman seems like a good guy, but man, he is a bad movie barometer of Chevy Chasian proportions.
- I had bookmarked a lot urban archaeology sites & posts over the years, and mostly never returned to them. Ironically, I now find there is a large number of abandoned sites of the web-variety also . . . fantasticdegradation.com, abandonedbutnotforgotten.com, historicdecay.com, and others. RIP, see you soon!