Movies about serial murderers have flooded theaters and Dvd shelves for quite sometime. Some are good, others mediocre and very few really does stand out. The German-produced thriller-melodrama "ANTIBODIES" (2005, aka. Antikorper) does stand out. It is gripping, has a very involving storyline and does play like a character study for both the protagonist and the antagonist. The film will definitely have comparisons to "Silence of the Lambs" and "Seven", but believe me, the film can stand on its own. Amazon friend Chris Blackshere recommended this film to me and I am very thankful.
For many years, Germany has been menaced by a "Crucifix Killer", a ruthless murderer that preys on young men. One evening, the killer has supposedly been apprehended by the local authorities after an intense encounter. The killer has been identified as a man named Gabriel Engel (Andre Hennicke) and he is psychosis and evil incarnate. A religious country cop named Michael Martens (Wotan Wilke Mohring) is obsessing over the murder of Lucia Fielder who had been found dead some years ago. The townsfolk insists that Engel is Lucia's murderer but Martens isn't so certain. He decides to go to Berlin just to make sure. Upon his arrival, Engel is fascinated by this country cop and decides that he would talk to no one but Martens. Martens begins his interrogation of the psychotic killer, little does he know that he may be connected to the killer himself in a very sinister way…
The film is a thought-provoking drama thriller that takes us into the depths of two men: Martens and Engel--good and evil. From the film's opening act, when Engel has been apprehended by police, you have an idea exactly what you are in for. Well, at least the film gives a misleading image that the murderer is caught and the nightmare is over--WRONG. The nightmare is just starting as the film presents a character study of Michael Martens. The man is supposed to be incorruptible; he goes to church, and follows the laws of man and God. Now this ‘good' cop is about to meet evil incarnate in the form of Gabriel Engel. The man supposedly has 14 victims under his belt and this doesn't mean that he has stopped adding names to his list. He mocks well-known serial killers like Jack the Ripper and Charles Manson, stating that society had glorified these two when they don't deserve much credit. With the film's opening act, the viewer is given a chilling impression and sets the film's tone; that they are to be taken for a ride and the film does not disappoint.
The tensions in the film begin when Martens and Engel begin their conversations. Admittedly, at first, I thought I was going to see a rethread of "Silence of the Lambs" or "Red Dragon" but the film quickly disperses this idea as director Christian Alvart presents an experience that is an effective blend of a crime thriller and a psychological study. The sharp-tongued dialogue will undoubtedly turn off some viewers, with its talk of child predators and sexual abuse. The images are actually quite twisted and disturbing but the scenes aren't done in bad taste and becomes an integral part of the film itself. The film examines the roots of evil and/or the evil that men do. The relationship between Martens and his son, Christan (Hauke Diekamp) is explored in dynamic fashion. The psychotic persona of simple ordinary folks and just what drives them to do such horrendous crimes.
Michael Martens have his own share of issues; an overbearing father-in-law and subtle hints were shown that his marriage isn't really in good terms as he sleeps in a separate bed in the same room with his wife. The film is actually a study a decent man and of psychosis itelf: what makes them so and just how it is that psychotics seemed to have no qualms between right and wrong. Some religious aspects are put to bear and these elements may seem a little heavy-handed to some viewers but to me, it was a stroke of fortitude and brilliance. The film's main premise is all about Martens and while Engel is arguably the more compelling of the two, Martens is the film's central focus.
Despite the film's riveting experience, the film does have its flaws. There was one investigation scene that had a major goof and some of its elements felt like they were too convenient. Barowski's character seemed a minor plot device to add complications while Seiler (Heinz Hoenig) is some sort of support and his character is a little underdeveloped. But these are minor flaws that can easily be forgotten.
Is evil really infectious? Are murderers born or are they made? These are the haunting questions that the film dares to ask in its very ambitious script. Alvart uses a Bible passage to reach its conclusion that I rather enjoyed. The film isn't visually bloody or brutal, but the experience does leave you that cerebral sensation. "Antibodies" is NOT a film for everyone because of the dialogue and the fact that it is a film about sexual predators, it will prove a little hard to take. There is also a graphic sex scene. The film's climax may be a little heavy-handed and will more than likely disappoint some viewers. But I rather think that it was quite surprising and goes in a direction that wasn't expected.
I'd hate to repeat myself; but again, the film is not for everyone and those who are looking for an abundance of violence will be disappointed. The film is more an enthralling study of a man and evil itself. The film is more a psychological chiller than a horror film but Hennicke's and Mohring's performances does give it an oddly creepy feel. The film's climax will undoubtedly provoke mixed reactions-- for me, it fit the film's premise and was surprising.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! [4 ½ Stars]
You can sit in a corner and suck on your thumb for now…
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