Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Urban Explorers-review by Gavin Jennings.

Urban Explorers (2011) Blu ray review

Urban exploration or ‘Urbex’ is the examination of normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities. My hopes of reviewing a documentary in the style of ‘Time Team’ etc have been dashed by a low budget Euro slash flick similar in style to Creep, Wolf creek, and the Descent. I like the potential of the subterranean setting but will the film manage to lift itself out of the gutter? Let’s take a look...
A group of young thrill seekers from all over the globe pay a complete stranger to take them into the vast maze of corridors and dangerous structures underneath Metropolitan Berlin in the hope of seeing newly discovered Nazi propaganda. Completely unfazed by a run in with two Neo Nazi punks the group continue exploring until one of the team is injured, effectively splitting them up. Coming to their rescue is Armin, a former East German border guard who just might be able to get them back to the surface if he wasn’t a complete fucking psycho! What follows is a game of cat and mouse with award winning make-up effects and a fantastic performance from Klaus Stiglmeier as Armin.

Sadly there is nothing going on that we haven’t already seen before and the plot quickly descends from bad to downright stupid which ruins any tension that Armin creates. The characters make unrealistic decisions that land them in deeper trouble and you would have to be a complete idiot to think that a killer dressed in tramps clothing with cuts on his face can fool a subway train carriage full of passengers into believing that he is a ticket conductor! The action is pretty well shot with some interesting albeit unnecessary camera tricks but there was never a time when I felt that they were making good use of the unique Urbex theme. This is a real let down as it is the only thing that could have separated it from being a ‘Hostel’ clone. The DTSHD soundtrack rocks but it amplifies the already over the top sound effects and the picture is also fairly average for a Blu-ray transfer. It’s not terrible, and it might be down to the dark environments, but it isn’t a massive improvement over the cheaper and perfectly adequate DVD. There were no special features on the preview either which is a shame considering that Urban Exploring is such an exciting subject. Why are there not any documentaries, it seems like a missed opportunity.
In all honesty I didn’t particularly like Urban Explorers. It squanders the potentially fascinating subject matter in favour of average shocks which is a shame as at one point it felt like it was on the verge of greatness. Whilst the make-up effects are impressive and betray the otherwise low budget feel the story and its ridiculous turns keep this film firmly rooted in the basement. How this won best picture at ‘Screamfest’ film festival is beyond me!

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