Victor and the Secret of Crocodile Mansion
Cyrill Boss, Philipp Sternnert
Kristo Ferkic, Joanna Ferkic
March 22, 2012 (Theatrical)
When Victor and his family move into his grand-uncle's mysterious - and seemingly haunted - mansion, the young boy detective makes it his mission to solve the case of a girl who went missing there forty years earlier.
So, I’m a fan of potentially terrible movies. This does not mean that I love watching movies that are bad. Bad movies are just that: bad. They don’t tend to be enjoyable and it is usually tough to pull out anything of worth from the experience, but movies that are bad in a ridiculous, I-can’t-believe-someone-actually-made-this way are fantastic. The potential of watching a hilariously bad movie is exciting to me, and so every now and then I’ll be renting a random movie from Redbox. It’ll be a movie I haven’t seen and possibly never heard of. It will be a movie that I see in the list of available titles and go “Oh my god, I must watch this”. Now, despite my introduction, this series isn’t meant to solely be about finding and watching a hilariously bad movie. It’s also for finding movies that look good, but have gone completely under my radar. Sometimes the movies won’t be bad at all. Which, to my surprise, is the case with the first entry in this series: Victor and the Secret of Crocodile Mansion.
Victor and the Secret of Crocodile Mansion is a German kids movie, which I did not realize until I was brutally assaulted by the terrible dubs. When this initially happened, I prepared myself to experience a film that was probably not Oscar-worthy. And I was right, but that doesn’t mean this was a bad movie. It was actually surprisingly unsettling as well as heartwarming. The movie opens with a scene you’d expect to be at the beginning of a horror film with ghosts. Old sephia-toned footage of a young girl brushing her hair is shown, accompanied by genuinely unsettling piano music; this isn’t an opening you’d expect from a children’s movie, but it originated in Germany, so I imagine they can probably get away with this kind of thing. Victor essentially revolves around the titular child character and his investigation into the death of his grandfather’s daughter. He finds her diary, which is filled with creepy drawings that act as clues for Victor to follow. This movie is part detective mystery (in the vein of National Treasure) and part toned-down horror drama. And the movie’s plot is split that way. There is what the girl left behind and there is what caused the girl’s death. Both of these plot points were actually surprising and unpredictable in a way that didn’t make me feel cheated or misled. All of the clues are there, you just have to piece them together as Victor uncovers them. The ending is emotional and legitimately heartwarming as well as satisfying from a mystery standpoint.
Overall, I can’t really recommend this to anyone except for parents who need something to distract their children. The movie isn’t of high enough quality for the average movie-watcher to enjoy, and it isn’t bad enough to enjoy either. It is just a decent movie, but for a kid’s film it is surprisingly well-made, and there’s something to say for that.