2005 [GERMAN]

Crime / Drama / Horror / Thriller

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Norman Reedus Photo
Norman Reedus as Polizist Schmitz
1.1 GB
German 2.0
25 fps
2 hr 2 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by FilmFlaneur8 / 10

Antibodies bodes well

Only the second film by the former editor of the legendary German movie fanzine X-TRO, Antibodies (aka: Antikörper) is an assured and suspenseful work which, while it willingly acknowledges its obvious indebtedness to Hollywood models, still manages to strikes out convincingly on its own. The most obvious inspiration behind Christian Alvart's film is The Silence Of The Lambs (1991),to which explicit and grimly affectionate allusion ("What did you expect? Hannibal Lecter?") is made by killer Gabriel Engel (André Hennicke) at one point early on during his captivity. Restrained in conditions which recall those featuring in Jonathan Demme's movie, visited too by a similarly awed and repelled police investigator, Engel actually gives a performance less self-conscious than the much-imitated Anthony Hopkins'. And, because of the latitude of German cinema, where the precise detailing of paedophilic lust rape is more permissible as a drama demands, it is all the more disturbing in the telling. Watching this film, where the principal and community are wracked equally with guilt and blame, one easily recalls that this is the national cinema which earlier produced another monstrous child murderer, that of Fritz Lang's M, and indeed is a country where communal guilt is never very far below the surface.

Just as Clarice Starling needs her Lecter, so Schmizt needs his Engel to help solve a case. Having already killed 14, most of whom were young boys, Engel offers his own tantalising clues and hints as to where the other killer may be found. But, as he says, "Evil... is infectious," and soon Schmizt begins to question his own moral certainties, before ultimately basing his judgement on the only firm foundation he knows - the Old Testament, a process which involves a particularly painful scene of self mutilation by way of penance, as well as providing doctrinal justification for the suspenseful final scenes.

Antibodies is a film which never slackens its tension, and which avoids completely the flabby sentimentalising or overcooked heroics which often mars the American thriller product. Silence Of The Lambs contained more certainties than we are provided with here. Even though it gave its audience an extreme form of serial killer, in the form of 'Buffalo Bill', one both flamboyant and rock inspired, it instantly made a stereotype of itself, and it was this 'respect' of sorts by the audience that the director has said he was keen to avoid. Like Silence Of The Lambs, Se7en and the rest of their bloodline, Antibodies parades a notable killer's lair of its own as well, although any artefacts on show are less disturbing than the ultimate meaning of the 14 red squares drawn by Engel on the wall, or the spare, clean white tiles of his torture room.

At the centre of such films is inevitably a duel between killer and cop, and here the two main parts receive terrific performances, Hennicke mightily disturbing as the gloating and manipulative serial killer, writing his books of blood, and Reedus drawn and haunted as the cop on the edge. As is often the case in this sort of film, a troubled parallel is drawn between them, a process highlighted in the first instance by a change in Reedus' lovemaking, as one whose psyche is increasingly affected by the killer's manipulative mind games. And when the depressed cop buys a suit on impulse, from a shop woman with whom he later sleeps in aggressive fashion, we are reminded of how moral codes can be put and 'worn' almost as one would clothes, until one "can't tell where the suit ends and the man begins." But by the same mark are never the less separate, and can be peeled back to reveal the real creature underneath, or changed at will.

The signs that accompany the disturbed personality are more than just at that mundane level however. We are reminded in this film of the "'Holy Trinity' of serial killers: playing with fire, tormenting animals and bed-wetting" - some signs of which the tortured cop discovers, with growing alarm, occurring within his own family. As mentioned above, a strong religious thread runs through the film, of which this is only another aspect. Schmizt's family are devoted church-going folk, bible quotations play an especial significance and at one point the cop seeks to make his confession. But God's benign influence is ultimately conspicuous by its absence rather than influence, the final resolution less due to any supernatural grace than human doubt. In fact, in interview, director Alvart has expressed his serial killer in terms of the criminal representing 'total doubt', whilst drawing a parallel between religious fanaticism and the extremes of criminal behaviour, each with their respective compulsions.

In short, Antibodies is well worth seeking out, as a serial killer film that's both thought provoking and reasonably gripping - and can also be taken as a possible antidote to Hannibal Rising. Alvart is clearly a talent to watch (his previous, and first film, Curiosity And The Cat (1999) was a little seen - at least in the UK - but well thought of suspense flick, that also featuring corroding suspicion and sadomasochistic overtones). One hopes to see more of his work.

Reviewed by PyrolyticCarbon10 / 10

Excellent script with superb actors and an amazingly suspenseful ending. Catch before US remake.

I would recommend not reading how IMDb bills the movie, I won't say why other than if you don't and you see this movie, it will be a richer experience for it. Basically though, the movie is about the capture of serial killer Gabriel Engel played by André Hennicke, someone the Police have been trying to catch for a very long time. A small town cop, Michael Martens played by Wotan Wilke Möhring, comes to interrogate him over the disappearance of a child from his village and makes more headway than the Detectives have. However the meeting troubles Martens, and the two characters suddenly seem not as far apart as their roles suggest.

The opening of the movie grabs you by the throat. It portrays Engel, the killer, being tracked to his apartment and captured by the Police but not without a battle first. It's dark, violent and extremely exciting cinema at this point and it shows you immediately the intelligence, cold calculation and sheer determination of the serial killer. It sets the movie perfectly, and tells you a lot about Engel. It's superbly shot and visualised, and had a fair amount of the cinema on the edge of their seats with audible excitement from the people next to me.

I have to then mention what happens after this scene, the titles. It struck me just how good these looked and I became fascinated with them. The words appear on the background and begin to move slowly across the screen. As they do so any foreground object that appears or walks across them, does so over the top and the title moves behind them. For some reason this simple effect was highly engaging and coupled with the unique angles and gentle scenes that played out, I was totally enthralled.

The good camera work follows on from the initial scenes, there are some unusual angles and shots used but they are never obtrusive. The camera is secondary and you do feel yourself pulled into the film by the strength of the story and characters, not noticing the camera moving for you.

Hennicke as the serial killer steals the show. He is utterly enthralling when he is on screen, and carries the role with complete believability and passion, I do mean that as a compliment. There is no real appeal for this character, yet he has a fascination, kind of like the scene of an accident where everyone slows down to look.

Möhring is equally as strong, and he is engaging because you identify so much with him and want him to win through. The chemistry between the two actors during their interview scenes is excellent, the power and strength of the killer against the insecurity and uncertainty of the cop are played out very well. These scenes provide for some great moments with some excellently written dialogue between them both. His slow descent and the way he is affected by the killers words is expertly handled. The way his life and his personality is slowly changed one step at a time is very strongly written.

The relationships between the cop and his wife and father-in-law are positioned early on in the movie and incredibly naturally, this is something I really liked about this movie, there's no exposition that is glaringly obvious, and even when it is made to the audience it's not always made in black and white, you have some assumptions to make. I really liked that, it means you have to do some of your own thinking rather than be spoon fed.

Another interesting triangle of relationships is that between the two cops and the killer, all have different personalities at the beginning of the movie but as it progresses Martens grows closer to them both. Again well written and visualised characters with strong and believable dialogue.

The movie looks at the effect of strong faith and belief on a person and the family unit. The lead begins as a staunch religious believer and good all round character, and it's later in the film where his faith and belief are eroded and the doubt enters his mind. During the Q&A after the movie, Christian Alvart the Writer and Director said that the role of the killer is that of the doubting voice, of total doubt. The idea being that the two characters are the extremes, and it's from these extremes at either end of the spectrum that people can leap to becoming a fanatic. A fanatic as in the killer, or a religious fanatic. It's this that he wanted to show in the movie. It's only when the reconcile the extremes that they become a person and not a fanatical creature.

There are some shades of comparison with The Silence of the Lambs and the superior Manhunter, but these are inevitable considering the interviewing of a serial killer. There's also comparison with another movie that people will make, and I shan't tell you which, this is something Alvart himself acknowledges, but didn't realise until after he had filmed it. There's no negative aspect to this and the connections are quite superficial, the power and strength of this movie are in the many other layers, not the top glossy layer, but deeper in the characters, family life and fanaticism.

The ending is extremely well crafted, if not entirely well hidden. It's strong, suspenseful and the closing fifteen or so minutes are probably the most suspenseful and exciting I've watched in a long, long time, the audience gasped during these last moments. I thoroughly recommend this movie, especially before the deal is made for a US remake, and it will be, Alvart said as much during the Q&A. So see it now, it's a superb movie with some excellent performances and a very strong script. This was undoubtedly the best movie of the Edinburgh Film Festival 2005 for me.

Reviewed by lastliberal8 / 10

What's in us that lies, whores, steals and murders?

This movie grabs you from the beginning as something that is original and daring. It is not just another police/serial killer drama, but one that is well worth watching despite the fact that it is in German.

With haunting music by Michl Britsch, songs by Nadeshda Brennicke, and brilliant cinematography by Hagen Bogdanski (how can you not be brilliant when filming in Germany, one of the most beautiful countries on Earth?),you will quickly forget the language barrier and enjoy.

The acting in this film is among the finest I have seen.

You will see things during the police interrogation that you have never seen before.

The intricate cat and mouse between the rural policeman and the rapist/serial killer is captivating. The line between good and evil is thoroughly analyzed and tested to the point where you are not sure of it's location.

The last twenty minutes...what a treasure to watch!

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