JULY 9, 2008
I really thought that Antibodies (aka Antikörper in its native German, which is a way more awesome title) was recommended by a HMAD reader. But I must have had it confused with Anatomie, which stars fellow German Franke Potente and was recommended by a HMAD reader named Gwen. Oh well. I’ll still keep an eye out for that one, and you, Gwen, should watch Antibodies to even it out.
For a serial killer movie that clocks in at 128 minutes, the body count is pretty low. Since most of it takes place after the killer is captured, this sort of makes sense, but it doesn’t make the film’s length any easier to digest. Not much happens, the plot is pretty thin (it’s more a character study than a typical serial killer flick), and the ending is a copout. At least if the ending was awesome it would be worth the wait, but that is not the case (spoilers follow!).
Not that it’s a bad ending, it’s actually a nice one and has a good message about family first and all that. BUT, this is a GERMAN film. No one watches German movies for the sunshine and rainbows, even ones that are about sunshine and rainbows. So when I watch a German serial killer movie in which the hero’s Jared Padalecki-ish son is made to look like the actual murderer of a particular victim attributed to the bad guy, I WANT him to be the damn killer! I don’t want this plot to be quickly and confusingly explained away by a notebook that was smuggled out by some lab technician or whatever. And even if the kid is innocent, they should have at least gone with the idea they were going with (think The Mist), which would be a shock and also retain the German standards of depression and morbidity.
Otherwise it’s a solid serial killer movie in the “cop gets TOO CLOSE” mold. Like many of his peers, the cop has to talk to the killer in order to extract information, at the expense of providing the killer personal details about his life. As usual, this results in the cop angrily fucking his wife (this traditional scene has a truly disturbing coda) and hurting himself to see... whatever it is cops on the edge see when they began blurring the lines between good and bad and all that stuff.
Unlike Hannibal or Horace Pinker, Gabriel (the killer – not the angel. Though coincidentally, the same day I rented this from the store, a copy of The Prophecy arrived at my house from Netflix) has no charm or endearing traits that make the audience side with him. He’s a horrible man, and they never stray from that. Which is good – we don’t need to see Gabriel Rising someday, explaining how he’s only a child raping murderer because some dudes burned down his cabin or whatever. Also, since he looks like T-Bag from Prison Break, he’s even easier to dislike.
The best setpiece in the movie is also the first. It’s the capture of Gabriel, which for some reason features a cameo by Norman Reedus (not a German, not a big enough name to warrant a cameo in anything). Gabriel spends the entire scene naked, even when he dives through windows and doors. Not only is it an exciting scene, but it also quickly demonstrates how insane he is: anyone who displays a lack of concern for his own cock is truly psychotic. It’s also a very dark (as in nighttime) scene, a stark contrast to the unusually bright 2 hrs that follow.
Another great thing about the prologue is that it helps delay the start of the opening credits until the 12 minute mark. I’m always tickled when credits come in really late, I have no idea why. The Fugitive was like this too, I think it’s about 20 minutes in by the time they end.
Unsurprisingly there isn’t a lot of levity in the film. The only bit of it stems from the cop’s partner, a guy who uses the term “jerk-off” with alarming frequency. His first line in the film is “I think this jerk-off is OUR jerk-off”, and he finds a way to use it roughly every 5 minutes thereafter (once even appropriately: the killer begins to pleasure himself and he yells “Are you jerking off?” Why he fails to refer to him as a “jerk-off” as well is a mystery – the version I rented has no extras). So again, coupled with the length and the lack of action, it’s not exactly a “drunk with buddies” movie, but it’s still pretty good and worth sticking with. Some of the subplots are never really explained (why is the cop furiously cleaning a piece of valuable evidence? Why does he type up his reports outside?) but the performances, truly sick killer, and above average direction by Christian Alvart more than make up for it. And at least it doesn’t have a scene where the cop is accused of “getting too close!”, so there’s something.
What say you?