7 Days to Live

Athoroughly generic psychological thriller in which a writer goes nuts in a dark old house on some moors, "7 Days to Live" is a direct-to-video item in Anglo territories and a quick theatrical scooper in foreign-lingo markets, where the often clunky dialogue won't seem so, uh, clunky. One of a growing number of German productions shot in English -- including "Private Lies," "The Little Vampire," "Undertaker's Paradise," "Sanctimony" and "Deeply" -- pic is set to go out through heavyweight local distrib Senator in early December.

Athoroughly generic psychological thriller in which a writer goes nuts in a dark old house on some moors, “7 Days to Live” is a direct-to-video item in Anglo territories and a quick theatrical scooper in foreign-lingo markets, where the often clunky dialogue won’t seem so, uh, clunky. One of a growing number of German productions shot in English — including “Private Lies,” “The Little Vampire,” “Undertaker’s Paradise,” “Sanctimony” and “Deeply” — pic is set to go out through heavyweight local distrib Senator in early December.

Set (presumably) in England, but lensed in the Czech Republic and at Barrandov Studios, movie opens with an intro in 1976 as a group of people, led by cop Carl (Nick Brimble), discover a traumatized man and the bloated corpse of his wife in a remote house. Twenty-three years later, burned-out novelist Martin (Sean Pertwee) and his American wife Ellen (Amanda Plummer) hole up in the long-vacant property following the death of their son from swallowing a wasp.

Helmer Sebastian Niemann wastes no time getting down to essentials. Ellen starts seeing and hearing warnings — on a traffic sign, on the radio, etc. — that she has seven, then six (and so on) days to live. When hubby starts acting strange and argumentative, and seems to be hiding something in the cellar, she sets out to solve the mystery of the place which, per locals, is situated on a primeval bog with a grisly history.

First half devotes some time to drawing the couple’s relationship, in agreeable scenes that are lightly played by Plummer and Pertwee, who have good chemistry. Less convincing are Martin’s publisher (Sean Chapman) and his partner (Gina Bellman), who drop by for weakly scripted dramatic relief.

Final reels, with a thunderous soundtrack and good special effects, are entertaining enough in an entirely unoriginal way, and technically the widescreen movie is thoroughly pro. Village scenes, however, are about as English as a Bohemian rhapsody.

7 Days to Live

Germany

Production

A Senator release of an Indigo Filmproduktion presentation of a Becker & Haeberle Filmproduktion production, in association with Senator Film Produktion, Roof Top Entertainment and EIS Prods. (Prague). (International sales: Amberlon Pictures, London.) Produced by Christian Becker, Thomas Haeberle. Co-producer, Don Maug. Directed by Sebastian Niemann. Screenplay, Dirk Ahner.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Gerhard Schirlo; editor, Moune Barius; music, Egon Riedel; production designer, Matthias Muesse; art director, Martin Maly; costume designer, Anke Winckler; sound (Dolby Digital), Pepe Kristl; sound designer, Alexander Saal; associate producer, Mike Downey; assistant director, Frank Scharl; casting, Liora Reich, Danielle Roffe (U.K.), Gabriella Tanna (U.S.). Reviewed at Munich Film Festival, June 25, 2000. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Amanda Plummer, Sean Pertwee, Nick Brimble, Gina Bellman, Sean Chapman, Eddie Cooper, Chris Barlow, Amanda Walker, Jean Marlow, John Higgins. (English dialogue)
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