Jason Arment reviews Luz, a supernatural horror film by Tilman Singer that pays homage to horror films that have come before. (Yellow Veil Pictures)
When I viewed Luz, I had no idea what to expect. Had I known that it’s a film studies thesis project, I wouldn’t have gone.
If Tilman Singer goes on to be the next Kubrick, Luz will be looked at as the bud brilliance trembling in its eagerness to blossom. Viewed simply as a thesis, Luz is a home run, but as a film, it falls flat. There are funny moments, and scary moments, but there are also many moments of confusion and cringeworthy dialogue. Though the film doesn’t hesitate to draw from other films, what it doesn’t do is build up tension.
It’s 2019. I regularly watch people die in horrific car accidents on Instagram channels dedicated to crash and burn content. Having a character self-harm, for reasons that make sense in the film, doesn’t make me look away. Audiences have seen ISIS burn people alive, and this needs to be taken into account.
When the audience isn’t invested in characters, there isn’t a reaction when bad things happen to them. Without any kind of attachment, all we’re left with is detachment throwing off the intended mood and tone of the film.
(Luz movie poster)
There are many reviews of Luz that seem to struggle with saying straight out what they mean—there are a few good scenes, but not a lot else. There is talent steeped in potential, but whether this talent will amount to anything is yet to be seen. It’s simply intellectually disingenuous to give Luz a pass because it’s a great film studies thesis project. As it stands, people will shell out the same hard-earned money to see Luz that they could use to see another, more developed film.
Tilman Singer does showcase his talent, and, if at the helm of a film with resources, I have no doubt it would be a solid movie worth your money. And although I’ve been extremely critical, and even dismissive, of Luz, I do hope to see more of his work in the future because I think it will be quality work. I want Singer to succeed because he obviously is a fan of horror, and a film fanatic. Just because I didn’t chronicle all of the influences visible in Luz doesn’t mean they aren’t there, it just means pedantic lists of movie Easter eggs are falling out of favor with critics.
If Tilman Singer can make Luz as a thesis project, I can’t begin to fathom the sort of blockbuster horror films are in store for fans of the genre in the future, and that’s the real takeaway from Luz.