Scars of Xavier | Film Review

Kai E. Bogatzki, the editor of Blood Feast (2016), makes his directorial debut with Scars of Xavier (Germany - 2017), a feature-length film that crosses multiple genres (drama and thriller) to the point where it flows, with great style, into horror and gore.
The curtain opens on the life of Xavier (Marc Engel), a man who spends his days apathetically, working at a car wash in Prague. Introverted and antisocial, he avoids people but at night gives vent to his tensions and frustrations, turning them into the urges of a ruthless serial killer. An encounter with Karolina (Alexia Von Wismar) will trigger a strong inner struggle within him.

In Scars of Xavier, a pronounced sense of unease and an equally profound sense of estrangement proliferate out of all proportion. This is accentuated by meticulous direction and Marc Engel's extraordinary performance. The actor, fully cast in the role, perfectly impersonates an unreliable person consumed by his own inner demons and plagued by personality disorder.

The story points to the monotony of his existence and then penetrates into his memories, bringing out a sad and bleak past. Painful and shocking flashbacks thus reopen the wounds of the fragile protagonist, infecting them with new anger, regrets and revenge. Transformed into a monster by life's injustices, Xavier alternates his moments of calm and silence into violent outbursts of rage during which he is guilty of heinous murders.

While not the first film to tell the story of a serial killer (fictional or otherwise), Scars of Xavier enjoys a valuable authenticity and originality dictated by good direction and a great screenplay (also by Kai E. Bogatzki) joined, no doubt, by a good and surprising acting performance (Marc Engel).

Not to be outdone are the shocking and incisive flashbacks related to the protagonist's childhood and the grand sequences related to the particular murders embellished by stunning unconventional directorial choices (the woman martyred on a mattress, for example).
Also to be commended in this regard are the special effects (by Philipp Rathgeber) that spice up the most truculent scenes (even decapitations) by turning them into magnificent horror/splatter/gore set-pieces.

Scars of Xavier stands out as, among the films of 2017, a wonderful insight into madness.

In the cast: Marc Engel, Alexia von Wismar, Isabelle Aring, Jelly Francis Gaviria, Angelina Markiefka, Daniele Rizzo (Stung), Dirk Sonnenschein, and Oliver Troska.
Lucas Blank and Philipp Peißen handled the photography while the music is by Klaus Pfreundner.

Winner of the "Best Feauture Film" and "Best Special Effects" (Philipp Rathgeber) awards at the DarkVeins Horror Fest 2017, Scars of Xavier also received the special award ("Special Mention") at the The Optical Theatre Film Festival 2017. Just yesterday, December 20, Scars of Xavier racked up awards at the NYC Indie Film Awards: "Best Feature Film," "Best Director (Kai E. Bogatzki), "Best Actor" (Marc Engel), "Best Score" (Klaus Pfreundner) and "Best Editing" (Kai E. Bogatzki).

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Barbara Torretti
Barbara Torretti
Editor and moderator of the DarkVeins community. Passionate about horror cinema, I also do reviews and interviews pertaining to the film, music and art circuit.


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