Eva (Carolien Spoor), a young actress, moves into her own flat to gain some independence. She soon discovers some odd things about her neighbours – the guy who lives opposite always stares into her window, the landlord is a lech, and her the guy next-door is a little odd to say the least. Half-heartedly studying to become a vet, but aching to be on-screen, she tries out for an audition but gets nowhere. Her friend takes her out to cheer her up, and after picking up her neighbour, leaves Eva to go back to her place and sleep. Everything goes downhill from there, as she wakes up to find herself cuffed to a bed, being spoken to by a man in a gas mask through an intercom. The desperation to discover how and why she is there, and how to escape, soon consume Eva’s entire being.
Claustrofobia is a Dutch-language amalgamation of the scariest parts of the gore classics of the last decade, with heavy influences from Saw, Hostel, Scream, and Hannibal. This is the most beautifully shot horror film we have seen for a while, as big budget horror films try to focus too hard on making them edgy by making the colours darker and the imagery HD. Instead, Claustrofobia is shot in a fashion reminiscent of 28 Days Later, turning up the chill-factor as you vividly imagine yourself accidentally landing in Eva’s position.
Of course, this is massively helped by the committed performances of the leads. Spoor even manages to make Eva’s audition look cheesy and ‘horror b-movie’-esque, which is perfect for the scene, allthough she does look far too young to be at university. Dragan Bakema, as the killer, has great fun with his role, and the stages where the audience get to know more about his past are enhanced by the brilliant clarity of expression he brings to the character’s psychotic tendencies.
The only problem with Claustrofobia is the transparency of the storyline. Once the audience has guessed that the short clip at the film’s beginning is linked to the killer, the mystery of the horror is weakened. We couldn’t say if this was because we are familiar with the concepts of the horror genre; but if you are the kind of person who managed to get fooled by Amanda in Saw II, then there won’t be an issue. For horror nerds, though, this is far too obvious.
Horror is one of the few genres where non-English language films can easily become cult classics, usually with an inferior American remake to go alongside them. We hope Claustrofobia will enjoy a similar fate, as it is too good to go unnoticed.
Claustrofobia is available to purchase on DVD from Amazon.