Dir: Simon Jaquemet
This slice of angry cinema from Switzerland could almost be described as an Alan Clarke version of Lord of the Flies as a young 16-year-old boy is sent away by his punishing father to a youth camp in the Swiss alps. Simon Jaquemet’s debut feature is laced with a young cynicism and an air of violence which is both intoxicating and discomforting. A calm and lengthy introduction (offering the quietest section of the film) does well to show that the disaffected Mateo (Benjamin Lutzke) has more than his fair share of problems; Already a troubled teen whose past isn’t discussed by Jaquement, Matteo’s life is changed when his raging father ships him off to a naughty corner of a rural farm after he snatches his own baby brother as a joke.
The young director ups the ante for out down and outer when it’s discovered that the man in charge of the work farm isn’t in charge at all. Alone and in shock Matteo finds that the lunatics have well and truly taken over the asylum and, as he’s stuffed into a cage and left outside for the night, it becomes apparent that survival in a gang maybe the familiar substitute he’s looking for. Henspeter (Ernst C. Sigrist) the wayward drunkard is never really seen as any kind of authority figure. Though it is hinted that he may once have been a respected man the other three guests are truly in charge. The other kids in the barracks are Anton (Ste) Dion (Sascha Gisler) and Ali (Ella Rumpf) a tomboy whose relationship with Mateo becomes central to Chrieg.
A knee trembling initiation test above the Alps is a terrifying and splendid highlight with the non actors giving the mostly handheld film a rough and ready feel which fights against the often surreal and picturesque setting. Jaquemet is committed to observing the wayward kids rather than the beauty of their surroundings or even the pains of their past. As the four of them begin to head out to the city for nights of grand theft auto, arson, B and E and general debauchery, the looming figure of Matteo’s father re-enters the frame twisting Chrieg into some pretty dark territory. It does suffer slightly by never allowing much back story penetrate the plot and it often seems like Jaquemet more a spiky senseless vandal than a fully formed social commentator but he is certainly a director to watch. Chrieg ( or “War”) is certainly a primal scream of sorts but you’re left wondering where it came from.