A lone woman drunkenly makes her way down the escalator to the subway platform. It is the middle of the night, the platform is deserted. The lights flicker off, then on again. The sound of the approaching train can be heard. As the train roars closer, a blurry figure rushes across the screen, and the camera cuts back to the moving train. One of the woman’s shoes is the only thing lying on the subway platform.
This type of suspense is what viewers can expect when watching Kontroll, a Hungarian film directed by Nimród Antal. It tells a classic story of one man’s struggle between good and evil. What makes this film particularly unique is the Budapest subway, where the entire movie takes place.
The film begins with a drunken lady, who is pushed in front of a train in the middle of the night. This is the seventh “jumper” of the month, and it is becoming evident to the subway company that these deaths are not coincidental suicides.
The subway ticket inspectors now must also be on the lookout for the “pusher.”
The main character, Bulcsu, belongs to a team of raggedy ticket inspectors, which includes one particularly funny character Muki, who has narcolepsy. Bulcsu works all day in the subway and sleeps there at night.
With the help of a young woman who befriends him, Bulcsu is led to the killer and is able to defeat his inner demons along the way.
Kontroll is a classic story of good triumphing over evil and is filled with Biblical symbolism. The most obvious symbol is the subway representing the underworld that Bulcsu is confined to.
The other characters symbolize everything from angels, the devil, inner demons, and God. But these characters and symbols are easily debatable, which makes the movie fun to watch and analyze.
Due to the heaven-hell symbolism and the cliché good versus evil plot, Kontroll is unoriginal. The stripped-down story has been done before, but the subway setting is what makes this film worthwhile.
The setting also allows Kontroll to be dark and confined. The camera shots and movements are very controlled. Muted colors, mostly gray, brown and black, create a grimy and unspectacular setting. Though the setting is not aesthetically pleasing, it is very unique.
The movie has other strengths as well. The suspense locks in the viewer’s attention, and surprising snippets of humor give the audience quick pauses between the suspense. The music is an intense mixture of electronic and techno, which adds to the dark mood of the film and heightens the suspense. The entire soundtrack was performed by the Hungarian group, Neo.
This movie is worthwhile to see because of the unique Budapest subway setting. This setting, along with confined shots, makes this a dark and grimy film. Though the story is unoriginal, the film contains humor, suspense, and an excellent soundtrack.
Morgan Ashenfelter can be reached at email@example.com.