The Keep (1983) starring Scott Glenn, Alberta Watson, Jürgen Prochnow, Robert Prosky, Gabriel Byrne, Ian McKellen, William Morgan Sheppard directed by Michael Mann Movie Review

The Keep (1983)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Jürgen Prochnow in The Keep (1983)

You Can Keep It

After making their way through a rocky pass a German troop find themselves at a small village at the base of the rocks at the entrance to an ancient Keep. But when a couple of soldiers fascinated by what they believe to be a glowing silver cross try to remove it they release a trapped force. As they do this a mysterious stranger in a Greek fishing village awakes and starts to make his way to the Keep whilst the soldiers summon an elderly Jewish scholar and his daughter to come to the Keep to help unravel what is going on as soldiers are being killed.

Michael Mann has made some impressive movies over the years but sadly "The Keep" is not one of them, yet I applaud him for what he is trying to do. To put it simply Mann rips up the rule book and tries to create a different sort of horror movie and whilst for me he doesn't succeed it is only by trying to be different that cinema can evolve.

Scott Glenn in The Keep (1983)

The trouble with "The Keep" is the simple fact that it is a jarring movie, scenes are slashed, the story doesn't flow and for quite a while it is surprisingly dull, even a sensual sex scene ends up dull. In truth at times it feels more like an arthouse movie and one which seems to be attempting to appeal for those who are not so concerned over whether a movie entertains but what it says at a deeper level, the symbolism of scenes and so on. I say this because I have read various reviews on "The Keep" and most of those which rate it highly discuss influence and sub context, highlighting Mann's possible influences in a scholarly manner as if they were writing an essay as part of film studies.

But from an entertainment point of view "The Keep" doesn't work despite having some terrific visuals and many recognizable actors putting in good performances. In truth it is visually impressive and when we see the mysterious spirit in the form of a swirling tower of smoke encasing a body it is stunning, in fact it is a scene you will never forget. In fact the whole movie looks great be it the collection of houses which make up the tiny village to the actual look of The Keep.

What this all boils down to is that "The Keep" ends up coming across like a movie made by a film student who tries to be too clever in trying to be different. It doesn't work despite looking good and the end result is a movie which seems to have greater appeal for those who study movies rather than those looking for entertainment.