In a culture where popular horror films endorse conservative views of morality, allowing symbolic threats (in the guise of monsters) to rampage only to overthrow them -- and in the process reaffirming moral stereotypes -- there exists an exception to the rule. Films that are truly amoral and shocking. Too truthful for mainstream consumption. These celluloid gut-punches approach socially taboo themes with stylistic integrity, visual boldness, and emotional fortitude. Antibodies, the newest release from Dark Sky Films, is such a movie. And it wants to hurt you. Flipping the finger at taste, this problem child seeks no friends and offers no apologies. THIS is the type of genre film that has been largely replaced by limp-dicked test audience hokum -- a story as intelligent and emotionally intensive as it is hurtful.
Ignoring the cult-celebrity status of the Eighties slasher flicks or anti-hero tactics of Silence of the Lambs, Anti-bodies combines the morose atmosphere of noir with a grim realism torn from the day's headlines. After Gabriel Engel -- a man who delights in raping and killing little boys -- is arrested, this purposely fragmented narrative splits into two major plot-lines. The first element explores the life of a young cop investigating a young girl's murder, while the other focuses on Engel's police interrogation. Michael Martin, our protagonist, struggles to discover if Engel is the monster responsible for the torture of his son's best friend. After requesting an interview with Engel, Martin is shocked that the killer actually speaks to him, having ignored everyone else. What could have been a routine cat-and-mouse game instead transforms into a tense psychological descent into madness as Martin is drawn into Engel's world of illness and malevolence. In short time, Martin discovers that Engel's unwholesome thoughts have began to work on his own mind. The flimsy differences between good and evil, right and wrong, become increasingly thinner, until his conscience erodes, and Martin finds that the struggle with Engel is nothing compared with his suspicion that someone in his family might have aided the murderer.
A thematic cousin to such films as Henry and Last House On The Left, and H6, Anti-bodies evokes the bleak poetry of viciousness and amorality. An inspiration of downbeat yet effective suspense, this is also a surprisingly effective character study. Certainly not a popcorn movie crafted for the ho-hum self-satisfaction of the general populace, this horror lives right next door. Worse, it can occupy your mind. Themes of isolation, torn family structures, and psychosis lend additional depth to the exploitative physical horrors. While the violence is effectively gruelling, it operates on a more cerebral level than might at first be expected. The director leaves much of the carnage to the imagination. The crux of the story is concerned with the nightmare of battered psyches, not bodies. Most effective are those moments of mental and emotional cruelty, the sheer hopelessness and detachment that surrounds the characters. The juxtaposition between external appearance and internal truth serves as a social comment on the nature of humanity, which hides its savagery behind laws. Where does the illusion end and the bloody truth come fourth? Antibodies will tell you, if you care to listen.
Delivering clean picture quality, the visual elements of this DVD are superb. Colors are bold and clean, and no grain or print damage is evident. Audio is featured in Dolby 2.0 and 5.1, both of which offer clean and equally distributed sound. Extras are unusually introspective, including "B-Roll" which features Andre Hennicke doing stunts (in the nude) and an "Interview with the Director," wherein he introduces himself, the film, and major themes. Also covered are his personal views on religion and serial killers, which lend further interesting approaches to the story. The next interview is with Andre Hennicke, wherein he discuses his interest in the script and how he enjoyed acting out violent impulses. This is followed by still another interview with Wotan Wilke Mohring, who discusses his theories of religion, the director, etc.
Review by William P. Simmons
|Released by Dark Sky Films|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|