Skrypt (2004) Movie Review

I can safely say that “Skrypt” is the only Austrian film I’ve ever reviewed, seen or known to have existed. And, from what I can tell, the Austrian film market isn’t exactly booming. However, being from Scotland myself, criticising another country’s film industry is literally the equivalent of throwing stones while in a glass house, so I shan’t say anymore.

“Skrypt” is essentially about a mysterious manuscript that, when read, causes mental deterioration and eventual insanity. It was my introduction to Austrian cinema, and I have to say that it was a good one. Three men meet — one to deliver this manuscript, the other two to collect it and use it for their own nefarious purposes. However, unconvinced that the script is the real thing, the two “baddies” ask the messenger to read it and prove its authenticity. And with the messenger’s slow descent into insanity, things start to get weird.

“Skrypt” certainly looks good. In fact, one could even go as far as to say that it looks incredible, given the little to no money that it was made for. On display are a wealth of cool camera tricks and fancy editing that make the film look a lot more expensive than it really is. In fact, it’s the images on screen, as opposed to the plot or acting, that make “Skrypt” excel as a short film. Director Peter Koller certainly has a good eye for imagery, and it shows.

The concept of “Skrypt” is also impressive. Although it is not entirely original, “Skrypt’s” core idea is simple and effective, and is more than enough for a short film. In fact, the notion of a manuscript that drives its reader insane is enough for a feature film, let alone Koller’s 14-minute affair.

Where “Skrypt” fails, however, is in its execution. The acting is not the greatest, a problem that is exacerbated by the actors speaking in English as opposed to their native Austrian. I am assuming that the actors learnt the script phonetically, making the line delivery sound forced at best. Also towards the end, the movie gets so weird and confusing that there really isn’t any point in reading anything into it. It seems as if the stylish camerawork and special effects take over, rendering the film without any sort of substance. And, as mentioned hitherto, “Skrypt’s” concept is almost too much to be done justice in 14 minutes, leaving the film’s true potential unfulfilled.

“Skrypt” is an interesting little movie, and while it doesn’t live up to its full potential and falls flat at the end, it is certainly impressive given its almost nonexistent budget. Koller’s film is a very good example of short filmmaking, and how a little ingenuity can go a long way.

Peter Koller (director) / Futz (screenplay)
CAST: Aleksandar Petrovic …. Man with manuscript
Andreas Svolanek …. Evil Agent
Harald Madner …. Beggar