A German horror movie called Luz (2018) is one hell of a mind-bender. And what’s even more astonishing, it manages to be irresistibly complex within just 70 minutes.
In the series of Film Analysis by Cultural Hater, I try to fathom the most complex, bizarre and difficult-to-assimilate movies. In this article, I scrutinize Luz (2018), a German independent horror movie directed by Tilman Singer.
In particular, I will be looking into the following topics:
- What is Luz (2018) about
- The timeline of events
- The possession and evil entities in Luz (2018) explained
- The role of witchcraft
- The ending of Luz (2018) explained
What is Luz (2018) about?
Before I delve into the analysis of Luz (2018), let’s firstly recap the story and put the events on a structured timeline.
In the opening scene of Luz (2018), a skinny girl walks into a police station. Looking rather shady, she stands in the main hall for a minute, and then moves towards the interior of the station. This girl is the film’s protagonist, Luz – that’s her name – who is a cab driver.
Director Tilman Singer entwines Luz’s arch with a psychiatrist – Dr Rossini – who is called to interrogate her at the station. Prior to this arrival though, the doctor accidentally meets Nora, a ginger-head girl who talks him into having a few drinks. As the story unravels, we learn that Nora’s possessed by a spirit that travels from host to host, only to finally get to Luz.
A vast part of the film’s runtime is dedicated to recreating a car accident, prior to which Luz and Nora meet after their last meeting. This is essentially the manner ins which Singer lays pieces of the puzzle in front of the audience – by recreating the events that took place in the past.
The timeline of events in Luz (2018)
The point zero on the timeline of events in Luz (2018) is the car accident. Luz picks up Nora from the airport, the old wounds open, and the two part their ways – Luz to the police station, Nora to the bar. This is, however, the version in which Nora makes it out alive, and speaks to Dr Rossini in person (and not as a ghost, which I explain later too).
Nora’s body is already possessed in the cab, but due to the failure of the devil’s transmission, the evil being finds another, stronger host – Dr Rossini. When Rossini arrives at the station, he’s already possessed.
In the conference room, Dr Rossini hypnotizes Luz, but in reality it’s the devil that for a hold of the therapist. A bridge is opened between Luz and her demonic friend. After the messed-up climax, Luz is finally ready to welcome the devil and become its most powerful host. That explains the scene where one of the police officers lets her out freely.
The possession in Luz (2018)
In all the reviews and articles about Luz (2018), the topic of possession pops up on a regular basis. Some theories claim that Luz is possessed right from the opening scene, others say that she’s controlled after the close encounter with Dr Rossini.
While the theme is obviously present in Tilman Singer’s horror darling, I’d say that the film is closer to Andrzej Żuławski’s more dramatic narrative in Possession (1981), rather than a typical possessed horror story. The Polish director’s brutal, bloody story weaved the theme of possession into the plot, and this was Żuławski’s means to explore a toxic relationship, and what it does to its two links.
I could see similarities between Żuławski’s film and Luz (2018). Debuting director Singer only hints at the topic of possession, and does so very early on in Luz (2018). In a scene, when Nora sneaks into a bathroom with Dr Rossini, the malefic entity takes over the control of his body, in an act sealed by a kiss. Through a luminous ray that beams from Nora’s mouth, the being enters its new host. It’s like a magnet that is drawn to Luz, connecting the dots until it reaches its destination. Without a doubt, Singer introduces possession and a supernatural element to the story.
Both for Singer and Żuławski, possession is not the main topic though. In fact, the two directors used it only as a tool to describe their protagonists, and the events related to them.
In the case of Luz (2018), the demon that pursues Luz highlights her vulnerability to evil. As we learn during Nora’s monologue early in the film, her Chilean ex-girlfriend has been a sucker for manipulation years ago, and had been able to influence others too. Does that indicate that Luz could be possessed before?
Is Luz a medium, or was she possessed before?
Singer points out that Luz might have, indeed, been the devil’s tool for longer. A plausible story is that Luz talked the roommate into some sort of ritual, which drawn the evil spirit to this world. I lean towards a belief in which Luz grew into becoming a medium, and in an unrevealed series of events, she burnt the bridge between her and the demon.
Bear that in mind and recollect the conversation of Nora and Dr Rossini. When Nora tells about the mysterious sickness that weakened all the girls in the Catholic school, Luz is pointed out to be the patient zero. More likely, however, she acted as a beacon that spread the disease.
The witchcraft in Luz (2018)
The possession of Luz that takes place in the film’s concluding scenes, is likely to be related to another, mute character appearing in the film.
That would be a naked girl whom we get a glimpse at as she’s lying on the floor, surrounded by an array of candles. This girl is Luz’ deceased roommate, whom Luz convinced she’s been pregnant. Her name’s Margarita.
Margarita marks Luz’s absorbance of evil, the birth of her darker side. Although the script purposefully dilutes this part, and throws only scraps of information, Tilman Singer encourages the audience to think independently. To me, the version sold by Nora – that Margarita didn’t commit suicide but could have been killed by Luz – sounds very likely to be true.
What exactly happened to Nora?
To deepen the image of Luz’s darker side, Singer puts forward another theory, in which Nora disappeared – or died – after a car accident caused by Luz. In a frantic word-by-word argument inside the cab, Luz mentions that Nora attempted to strangle her, which gives a motif to any subsequent crime at play. Albeit Tilman Singer sprays the mist of unknowing through Luz (2018), the narrative begins to be less opaque after giving a thought.
If that was true, then Dr Rossini didn’t meet Nora in person, but a ghost instead, which drugged him and pushed towards its main dish of the day. That’s on par with the hallucinations in the conference room, where the devil takes on different forms, all to nag Luz and gain control over her.
The ending of Luz (2018) explained
After an hour of visually exhilarating images, gloriously praising the grainy Gallo movies of Dario Argento, making sense of Luz (2018) begets frustration. Tilman Singer’s narrative reminds of a lucid dream, where particular moments, and facts get washed away, while others grow out of proportions.
In the climax of the film, Dr Rossini passes on the beam to Luz, and in a clever arch established between the opening and closing scene, the now-possessed protagonist safely leaves the station. Through screams and panting of a police translator – the witness of the wicked, hallucinatory interrogation – Tilman Singer concludes that letting Luz loose means bringing the demon out in the open.
What were your thoughts about Luz (2018)? Did you see the story in a different light? Share your opinion in the comments.
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