“Er ist einer Teufel.” He is a devil. That’s the dinnertime bombshell dropped on weirdo teen Christian by his kid sister in the German thriller, Antibodies.
Christian’s a loner who’s exposed himself at school and needless to say is having disciplinary issues, also drawing obscene images in church. Dad Michael is a small-time (and part time) officer of the law in a sleepy nondescript hinterland, a hunting village known for one thing and one thing only: an unsolved murder of a little girl from a dozen years back which tight-knit disbelieving locals have pinned on an outsider.
Meanwhile in Berlin, a creepy child killer, Gabriel Engels, is arrested in a bloody takedown and taken into custody. The Thin Blue Line’s narrowest exemplar Michael heads to the hospital where Engels is under police guard in hopes of getting some questions answered and closing the case file.
Urban / rural antipathies are of course a key component of horror, and it’s interesting for us to see this dynamic play out in the context of a country other than the United States.
In Antibodies, the killer sneers that the cop “smells like the country”. Meanwhile, Michael’s Berlin colleagues mock his wardrobe and refer to him as “farmer” while disparaging his underdeveloped interrogation methods. It it these, however, that are getting the previously mum killer to start dropping hints about what might have happened to the little girl. Soon, much to the chagrin of Berlin detectives, Gabriel won’t talk to anyone except Michael, whom the killer alternately accommodates then provokes with intimate questions about his personal life and requests to see pictures of young son Christian.
As details unfold, the law-and-order square cop’s Catholic faith is tested in the big city. There, he flirts with a stylist while buying a new suit, and basks in the pleasures of a local brothel along with a rambunctious Berlin detective.
But he does a lot of sleuthing too.
As each small town suspect is successively ruled out, son Christian’s odd behavior gives dad Michael pause.
Antibodies is riveting stuff.
Writer / director Christian Alvart says he wanted to explore what made people evil and even uses the infamous Macdonald triad — behavioral characteristics of children that predict later psychopathy — as inspiration. Animal cruelty is a theme that plays throughout, but not in the way you’d expect. In fact, Alvart seemingly goes out of his way to subvert expectations at every turn.
**** (out of 5)
2 thoughts on “Antibodies”
I really liked this movie; my mom not so much. She didn’t hate it overall, but she couldn’t stand the ending. Anyway, I liked how creepy and disturbing it was and the acting was overall good. Great review, you reminded me of some aspects of the film I had forgotten. I should watch it again, not sure where my copy is though. 😛
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