“DARKROOM” (“Drops of Death”)— A Gay Serial Killer

“DARKROOM” (“Drops of Death”)

A Gay Serial Killer

Amos Lassen

Lars is a male nurse from Saarbrucken who to Berlin with his lover, Roland, musician with a lilting voice. Together they renovate an apartment where they hope they will finally live together. Roland is totally happy but what he doesn’t know, however, is that while Lars is secretly checking out Berlin’s nightlife, he is experimenting with a deadly poison and has an obsession that will lead to a terrible outcome for the couple.

Rose Von Praunheim who is Germany’s most famous gay activist directed the film, a thriller loosely adapted  on one of the most notorious gay serial killers whose story played out in the German media for several months when it broke a few years ago.

Von Praunheim tells his story by moving back and forth in time. The film begins several years before the murders when Lars (Bozider Kocevski) is a bartender in small town gay bar and living at home with his wealthy grandmother.  When he first sees Roland (Heiner Bomnard) one night in the Bar, he falls madly in love with him. When Roland  tells him he is going to Berlin to pursue his career as a performer, Lars says he’ll join him.

They buy an apartment together  with money that Lars stole  from his grandmother who he  helped have an early death (after she told him that she was cutting him out of her will). 

For the next six years the two men lived comfortably in an open relationship which Lars had reluctantly agreed too even though he was not really in favor of. After becoming a nurse, Lars gave that up and is training as a teacher.

While cruising for sex one day, Lars discovered liquid ecstasy for the first time  and it gave him a sexual high. However, when taken in excess or mixed with alcohol, it could be deadly. Knowing this, he changed from just a regular into a determined killer of the men that innocently came his way. During a short period of time, Lars killed three men. Two other men escaped him and it was their evidence that caused Lars to be  sentenced to life in prison.

We never know Lars’ motive and we cannot help but wonder wo this very quiet and plain man would commit the deeds that he did. He tried, at his trial, to say that the deaths were a mistake but the judge declared that greed was evident and that Lars wanted to feel the total power over others and relish it.

Praunheim was well aware of the sensitivity of the topic. The three screenwriters did thorough research yet there are changes and interpretations of reality. Praunheim manages to surprise even after 50 years of career. Here he searches for discursive deconstruction in a clinical setting. He immerses the audience in the inner confusion of the protagonists – but without interpreting them in his place.

The acts on which the film was based were committed within three weeks of spring 2012. Just over a year later, the then 38-year-old was sentenced to life imprisonment by the district court for murder. In the spring of 2014, he committed suicide in custody.

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