• Sun. Sep 26th, 2021

New series on arte: schoner wohnen


Jun 14, 2021

Arte is now showing a horror series instead of a crime series. It’s about a young woman who moves into a creepy house. Nothing new, then.

Lisa – not alone in her house Photo: Arte

Already the beginning looks like a dejà vu, but it leads a bit astray. Into the maze, into the labyrinth, but more on that in a moment.

Because we have seen these super-monkey, professionally ingenious, socially under-gifted, that is, sometimes more, sometimes less autistic heroines in the succession of Inspector Lund in the meantime in 100 or 1000 or say: The most recent example is Commissaris Liese Meerhout in the current ZDFneo series "Coppers," from Belgium, where actress Veerle Baetens also comes from, who has already played such an investigator twice, in "Code 37" and in the Belgian-Danish-German-Austrian-Swiss co-production "The Team.

Lisa (Veerle Baetens), no longer 19 years old, lives in her rented apartment as undemandingly as any first-year student today. Instead of a bed, a mattress is enough for her, which she wets when she is plagued by nightmares at night: the demons of the past, an accident in the family, guilt complexes.

Against having to go out with colleagues, it helps that her husband takes such a toll on her – not that she has one. A fake wedding ring helps against pick-up lines – but it doesn’t stop the heroine from beckoning the just-rejected to join her in the car for a quick fuck in the underground garage.

Mysterious doors

What’s irritating on its own: Lisa is not a detective at all. She has the important, but not very TV-compatible job of a speech therapist. This doesn’t play a role in the rest of the series; she might as well be a florist. The Belgian-French three-part "Behind the Walls" (written and directed by Herve Hadmar) is genre, but not crime fiction. The genre – rarer in European series, but not excluded ("Les Revenants," in German: "The Returned") – is horror.

In the photogenically dilapidated house across the street, the body of a man who died thirty years ago is found, to whom Lisa is not related, whom she doesn’t know or doesn’t think she knows, but who bequeathed her the house. So she moves in – and soon can’t find her way out. Instead, she finds the dashing, somewhat old-fashioned Julien (Francois Deblock), who takes care of her:

"We have to leave, come on! THEY know you’re here, come on!"

"Behind the Walls," three parts, 9:45 p.m., Arte, part one: Thursday, Sept. 22.

"Who are THEY?"

"The Others."

I see. The viewer is at the level of knowledge of Lisa, who is enlightened by Julien only in bits and pieces. For example, its old-fashioned appearance, "I entered the house on November 7, 1916." Lisa has many questions, why does the house actually have no windows, how big can it be? Julien: "I walked around this house for days without ever entering the same rooms." Typical dialogue:

"We can’t find an exit anymore."

"There must be one."

"There is."


"I don’t know."

Number creep

Lisa, meanwhile, has read the Gospel of John, in which Jesus says, "I am the door," and Julien knows, after all, that the door must be red. The two of them are less alone and from now on they wander together through the house, where Geraldine Chaplin, dressed as an old woman in black, turns out to be the hostel mother of a horde of oil-smeared zombies: the Others.

And the neatly acted miniseries turns out to be a ghost train, a number revue of creepy effects, a quotation potpourri of familiar motifs, whose dicing together creates nothing new, but hinders the careful elaboration of the respective motif. That of the labyrinth ("Cube") and that of the possessive house that drives the new occupant mad (Polanski’s "The Tenant," Kubrick’s "Shining").

The most audacious theft: Lisa follows a little girl – not in a red coat but in a white dress – through the tangled hallways. She thinks she recognizes her sister, drowned in infancy. "When the Gondolas Bear Mourning" – the bar couldn’t be higher: creepiest movie ever, most erotic sex scene ever, nastiest final punchline ever – "The Sixth Sense" KiKA-ware in comparison.

Quoting is fun, we can do it too. As former film critic Francois Truffaut knew, "You can’t outrun someone by following in their footsteps."

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