Fritz Lang and his wife Thea Von Harbou collaborated on the script for M (1931) which is allegedly based on the true story of child murderer Peter Kurten aka the ‘Monster of Dusseldorf’. M is included as part of Culturine’s Halloween season. What separates M from previous entries in this category, is the reality of it all. M has happened and unfortunately always will.
Peter Lorre as the kiddie killer at the centre of M is horrifying in his lack of remorse and terrifying in his desperation to flee the manhunt. When he is eventually captured he exclaims 'I can't stop myself!' His bulging eyes are demented and bursting with lunacy, you can practically smell the sweat seeping from his pores and the vigilante mob, intent on revenge, become as merciless and terrifying as the killer himself.
M is a timeless masterpiece, a thriller full to the brim of horrific realism: The imagery is haunting in its simplicity. The scenes featuring the discontinued bouncing of a ball, a slow moving shadow, a lost balloon and an empty stairwell generate more tension and fear than all of the horror films of the last ten years combined. Although director Fritz Lang is famous for silence in his movies (Metropolis, Die Nibelungen) his utilisation of audio is jarringly effective. The killer’s voice is gentle yet incredibly creepy and crawls deep under the skin and the whistling that floats along with the film will ring in your ears forever.