Jan Bluthhardt and Julia Riedler lean in for a kiss that does not appear to be romantic in the German horror movie “Luz.” (Screen Media Films)

Jan Bluthhardt and Julia Riedler lean in for a kiss that does not appear to be romantic in the German horror movie “Luz.” (Screen Media Films)

Arty Germanic horror outing ‘Luz’ is about 75% of a movie

It’s got an eerie, trance-inducing style. But at 70 minutes, it ends just as it’s getting going.

One of the things I like about horror movies (and about horror movie fandom) is how much room there is to roam.

Horror buffs are more willing than most to explore the farther reaches of the movie map. A silent film with vampires? Low-budget 1960s drive-in fodder from the Philippines? It’s all worth checking out.

Horror accommodates so many different styles, too. In recent weeks, you could have sampled a whole range: traditional haunted-house scares (“Annabelle Comes Home”), monster flicks (“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” or “Crawl”), or an arty excursion into folk horror (“Midsommar”). Room to roam.

A new German film, “Luz,” falls on the esoteric end of the horror spectrum. This one would not be out of place projected on the walls of an art gallery’s opening night.

The story — such as it is — concerns the title character, a young Chilean woman (Luana Velis) who staggers into a German police station in the opening sequence. She’s had some kind of trouble.

We then shift to a spellbindingly strange scene in a bar, where some kind of police psychologist (Jan Bluthardt) is accosted by a woman (Julia Riedler) with a story. While they slam cocktails that appear to have been brought in from a Romulan outpost, the woman talks about Luz, and an incident that happened earlier in a taxi.

Oh, and demon possession. That’s in there, too.

Most of the rest of the movie takes place while the psychologist is questioning Luz, a process that includes hypnosis. It confirms our creeping suspicions that if there is a demon around, it has the ability to pass from one person to another — but then I suppose we knew that about demons already.

“Luz” is the debut feature from a young German director, Tilman Singer. He shot the project on 16 mm. film, so the images have a wonderfully grainy quality, as well as occasional scratches — the kind of thing we don’t get from digital moviemaking these days.

Along with its insinuating, dreamlike camerawork, “Luz” boasts a nerve-bending soundtrack, the sort of white-noise nightmare David Lynch likes so much. It’s as effective as the threat of demonic possession.

Which is pretty effective, although you might end up wishing “Luz” provided more meat to chew on. It comes in at just 70 minutes, less than half the running time of “Midsommar.”

Trance-inducing as it is, the film feels like three-fourths of a cool experience. I was looking forward to the rest of it. And then it ended.

“Luz” (2½ stars)

A German horror exercise, arty but with an eerie, trance-inducing style. It has something to do with a Chilean woman being interrogated in a German police station, and the strong likelihood that a demon is jumping from one body to another — an intriguing situation that seems to end just as it’s getting going. In German, with English subtitles.

Rating: Not rated; probably R for violence

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