In 2019, German writer and filmmaker Rudolph Herzog stepped into the world of fiction with Ghosts of Berlin, a quirky collection of seven short ghost stories. Translated into English by Emma Rault, each tale uses elements of horror and dark humor to uncover the horrific history of a modern, gentrifying Berlin, leaving no character left unscathed. In “Ball Lightning,” a couple’s love affair with each other reveals the deeper story of a woman haunted by dead Stasi agents. A work-obsessed man in “Needle and Thread” overlooks his family and the horrors of an old concentration camp by building a factory over it. “Ex Patria” has a woman face the consequences of living in an apartment full of blood.
This collection is every bit unique as it is disturbing. Each story is a stand out, though some leave much to be desired. Herzog also indulges in a few horror tropes (e.g. the female relationship with blood in “Ex Patria”). I don’t usually mind this when they are executed well, but in this case, the tropes come off as a little lazy and cliché. However, that does not take away the overall quality Ghosts of Berlin has to offer. The imagery is stark and vibrant, and Herzog’s writing presents a creative avenue for remembering Berlin’s past and the people forever affected by it. It is up to you to decide whether the subtle humor he adds softens or hardens the blows.
Photo Credit: Cover photo