The crime scene “The Gate to Hell” would like to be a Vienna horror show – but it doesn’t work.
Question from Bibi Fellner, spoken with urgency in the middle of the investigation: “What’s going on there!?” Question from the viewer, at the end: What was actually going on there? And why?
The Austria crime scene with the team Adele Neuhauser and Harald Krassnitzer usually promises a lot – and keeps it. And what, if you please, can go wrong if “The Gate to Hell” is supposed to be in Vienna itself? Didn’t Georg Kreisler already know and sing: “Death, that must be a Viennese / Just like the love of a French woman!” / For who will bring you to heaven’s door on time? /Yes, only a Viennese has the flair for it”. Logically, not all Viennese will be angels, so there needs to be a door to hell somewhere. So bring on the underworld black humor and the shame. If the competition from Münster was able to lure us into the afterlife that it was a pleasure (in the crime scene “Limbus”), the Austrians have been able to do it for a long time.
Well, apparently a lot can go wrong with the combination of Vienna & Death & Teufel. And that’s what happens in Thomas Roth’s new crime scene, written and directed.
The initial situation: A prelate has died. Apparently not where you find him. And apparently he was badly abused before. He worked for the church “in the ministry of deliverance,” that is, as an exorcist. It is an activity today that first seeks to determine whether a person who turns to the Church because they believe they are possessed has a mental illness.
So the psychiatrist (Sven Eric Bechtolf) who advised the prelate has to be questioned right away. “N.” was the last thing in the dead man’s diary, apparently a particularly crassly obsessed case named Nathalie. (The rest is confidential.) The search leads Fellner and Eisner to an old acquaintance of Bibis (Roland Düringer) who was a pimp, was exorcised, now…unsure what he is or is doing now. But he advises Bibi to get rid of her “sore thing” (a bad memory of a suicide). The search then leads to a professor (Angela Gregovic) who is interested in exorcism but also wants to find the gateway to hell. There is one, but not in Vienna, she says. Immediately afterwards: Okay, there is one in Vienna, “on the former bank of the Danube in the 3rd district”, where Vienna’s only witch burning took place.
Later, Moritz Eisner will suggest digging “a hole here”. Later, the professor will be stumbling around under Stephansplatz in an elegant suit, heels, and a handbag over her arm.
Is that meant to be ironic, satirical, funny? Maybe. Maybe not. Because at the same time, Bibi Fellner is plagued by nightmares in which, as a child, she sees a woman in a white dress dangling from the ceiling. At the same time, Fellner’s and Eisner’s homes are haunted: pictures fall off the wall, voices can be heard, there’s rumbling, rustling, thundering (a lot of thunderstorms in Vienna during the shooting?). There is also the actually very creepy Nathalie (Maresi Riegner). Only boss Ernstl (Hubert Kramar) tries to make a joke – and rebuffs him.
A crime scene as a Vienna horror show: that could have been something and Thomas Roth is trying. But the “Gateway to Hell” lacks inner logic, tongue-in-cheek madness, sharpness and blackness. Why do you think Bibi sees herself as a child in a nightmare? “Because you’re innocent like a child,” explains Moritz. Oh, then everything is fine.
“Tatort: The Gate to Hell”, ARD, Sunday, 8:15 p.m.