Obsessions is an obscure Dutch-German thriller that was directed by Pim de la Parra and co-written by Martin Scorsese and features a fantastic score by the legendary Bernard Herrmann, who also served as Alfred Hitchcock's main composer. It's a film that, even though shot in English (some characters are dubbed), has never been released in the U.S. until now. Considered the first Dutch "horror" film, Obsessions helped establish a presence for films of this type in the Netherlands. So, you can say it's a rather landmark film for the Dutch and quite possibly helped pave the way for filmmakers like Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop) and Dick Maas (Amsterdamned).
The film follows medical student, Nils Janssen (Dieter Geissler), who's rented a new apartment with plans of preparing for his exams. Those plans are quickly halted when a Van Gogh painting on his wall falls and creates a "peephole" of sorts. Curiosity gets the best of him and he begins spying on his neighbor and all of his wild, carnal encounters with various women. He soon realizes that something isn't right as the women appear to be tortured and end up unconscious on the bed before disappearing completely.without ever leaving the apartment. Playing detective, Nils takes it upon himself to break into the apartment where he discovers a woman tied to the shower in the bathroom, before he can do anything about it, he loses courage and leaves the apartment. When he checks again, the girl is gone.
Becoming increasingly obsessed with the happening going on next door, Nils gets involved with something that's bigger than he knows. He tells his girlfriend Marina (Alexandra Stewart), who's a reporter for a local newspaper, what's been going on and what he's seen and she joins in on the investigation, thinking that it may be linked to a missing model. The more involved they get, the more dangerous things become and when Marina decides to back out, Nils be in too deep.
Obsessions is really a "mixing pot" of a thriller, featuring sleazy exploitation elements, artsy montages, and a plethora of Hitchcock references. I must say that I enjoyed my time with the film. The plot, though vague at times, kept me intrigued throughout. The cinematography is fantastic, with excellently framed shots that take full advantage of the film's locales and really succeed with pulling you into the experience. Geissler and Stewart have great chemistry on screen, delivering believable and balanced performances. The film's atmosphere is also greatly helped by Bernard Herrmann's score, just like in most Hitchcockian films.
One of Obsessions' greatest strengths is it focus, the film rarely, if ever, strays from the main plot. It keeps a steady pace and whenever a moment arises where the story could be slowed by melodrama between characters, Nils' obsession with the neighbors activities quickly puts things back on course. The film builds up to a rather shocking and abrupt finale that most viewers won't see coming.
Cult Epics did a fine job with lovingly restoring this film, which has been transferred from 35mm elements. The picture features great detail and texture. The colors seem a little flat but without anything to compare them with, this could just be how the film was intended to look. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio track is clean, clear, and I didn't really notice any balancing issues. In terms of bonus features, we're treated to intros and interviews with both Pim de la Parra and Dieter Geissler, a short featurette about the legendary Dutch production company, Scorpio Films, a text interview and production notes from Martin Scorsese, a theatrical trailer and photo gallery round out the extras.
Obsessions was a hit in its native country but never quite got the recognition it deserved, which honestly baffles me, given the talent involved with the film. Cult Epics has given the film a very solid and impressive North American home video debut. If you enjoy '60s cinema, thrillers, Eurohorror, Alfred Hitchcock films, and cult obscurities, this release is a must own!
You can order a copy today from the Cult Epics website.