Natascha – The Girl in the Cellar Review: Basement Blues

February 17, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

NATASCHA – THE GIRL IN THE CELLAR: Wednesday, 17th February, FIVE, 8pm ALERT ME

Name a famous Austrian. Arnold Schwarzenegger, right?

It’s tough but, name another. Josef Fritzl?

Well a couple of years before the crimes of that evil beast hit the headlines, another gruesome tale from the landlocked nation shocked us all.

The name Wolfgang Priklopil will forever turn stomachs after it was revealed he locked a young girl in a cellar and kept her captive for eight years. Just what is it with that country?

Aged 10, Natascha Kampusch was bundled into a van and taken to Priklopil’s house, where he had built a dungeon. There she stayed, for years never allowed beyond a five metre square windowless room. Gradually Priklopil allowed her up to clean the home above and out in the garden – but only at night. Her story is told in a new shock-doc Natascha: Girl In The Cellar on Five.

Natascha, surprisingly self-confident and eloquent, gets interviewed along with her mother and Priklopil’s best friend Erntz. For some reason this interview is filmed from behind some open blinds and the cameraman refuses to stay still.

The problem is, eight years in a cellar is dull. Dull and monotonous. Staring at walls doesn’t make great telly either. Inbetween the interviewers, what can be used to demonstrate the story?

Cameras zoom in and out on a handful of stock photos of the cellar and shoot extreme close-ups of everyday objects like a toilet and a bookshelf.

Some drama is attempted with a reconstruction of the police search operation (and with just three 20-something cops how were they ever going to find her?) and mock radio news reports. But why?

A straight interview with Natascha is all you need. It’s her story, shocking enough without MTV-style shaky-cams. What’s not an interview is a distraction and all that camera movement can give you a headache.

In case you were wondering, Priklopil threw himself under a train when he realised Natascha had escaped. So unlike his fellow Austrian Arnie, he definitely won’t be back. Sadly, padded-out mostly-filler documentaries like this, certainly will be.