When it comes to horror movies, I tend to lean toward the films that have no limit of blood and gore. Give me guts, decapitation, and gallons of corn syrup. Wicked Pixel Cinema’s Ratline does not disappoint in any of those regards, and – along with the nonstop violence – it actually has a storyline!
Eric Stanze, the writer and director of Ratline (and owner of Wicked Pixel), never lets down his viewers. Just check out Scrapbook or Deadwood Park, and you’ll know what I mean. Ratline carries the same carnage, but brings another level to the gore with a historical backstory.
But, first, a quick summary of the film (for those who don’t care about story and just wanna know what it’s about… fuckers): The film begins with a few introductory scenes that seem to have nothing to do with each other, but Stanze and Jason Christ have this impeccable ability to weave together these stories and create the basis of a phenomenal film. Crystal Brewer and Kim Galloway are half-sisters who are willing to do anything for some cash, including murdering some guys and hitting the road, where they wind up crashing with Penny Webb, the granddaughter of the City Administrator in Hermann, PA. A group of Satanists decide to offer up a sacrifice to Lord Satan, but deem a dog unworthy of the glory, so they trick a passerby and kidnap him. Lo and behold, they chose the wrong guy to fuck with, because Frank Logan (or Otto Wilhelm) is an immortal Nazi scientist who is hellbent on completing his research. Oh, and Penny’s grandfather, Miles Webb, just happens to hold the final component of that research.
There’s the summary for you lazy bitches. Now, let’s get into the good stuff.
When it comes to low-budget or indie horror films, I don’t really have high hopes for the visual effects or even the acting, but Ratline literally made me cringe with how realistic the decapitations looked. I had to pause the film to get my bearings again. There were no over-the-top, artery-spraying throat slices and every stab and hack looked entirely convincing. Emily Haack, a Wicked Pixel favorite, does a magnificent job as Crystal. There is something very familiar about Haack and, regardless of the film or role, I find myself drawn to her and utterly invested in her character.
While the entirety of the film is enthralling and has a great blech factor, I was completely fascinated with the historical Nazi storyline. Without giving too much away, the villainous Frank Logan is out to capture the Blood Flag of Adolf Hitler so he can continue the blood magick rituals of his World War II Nazi scientist days, which, if completed, would mean he can pretty much take over the world. Now, I did some research on this SS Paranormal Division and holy shit it’s real. The Ahnenerbe was an institute in Nazi Germany that focused on the research and upholding of the supposed Aryan race, much like the Paranormal Division portrayed in Ratline. I love when movies play off of historical events, especially when they are brought about in such a way as Stanze captures in Ratline.
The entire cast is amazing and I’ll admit to feeling my heart bleed for Sarah Swofford’s character of Penny. By the end of the film, I just wanted to take her out for ice cream just to make her feel better.
Needless to say, Ratline has every aspect of horror that fans enjoy, whether they’re looking for gore, sex, paranormal activity, the occult, or a fascinating story. This movie has got it all.