Otto; or Up with Dead People. 2008. Germany. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. 94 min.
Cinematography by James Carman. With Jey Crisfar, Marcel Schlutt, Katharina Klewinghaus, Guido Sommer. The zombie film, as imagined by moviemakers like George A. Romero, has long been heralded as a form rich with political potential, a fantasy of a world in which all existing social relations-—including capitalism—have broken down. But LaBruce has given the genre a surprising and distinctive update with Otto, set in a not-too-distant future in which the undead (many of them gay) have evolved the ability to speak and reason, yet are persecuted by the living for being “an echo of their own somnambulistic, conformist behavior.” The eponymous flesh-eater wanders the streets of Berlin, until the eccentric experimental filmmaker Medea Yarn enlists him as a star in her zombie insurrection opus Up with Dead People. While Otto pieces together fragments of his previous, warm-blooded existence and struggles with unliving in the world, LaBruce’s film develops into a savagely irreverent critique of consumer culture and a moving parable of alterity.