(a.k.a. ANTIKOPER; ANTIMATTER)
An elderly lady calls the police one evening, complaining of screams coming from an apartment several floors up in the tenement block wear she lives. The two officers creep up the spiral staircase and wait at the door of the offending room.
Inside the room, we get glimpses of the naked Gabriel (Andre Hennicke, YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH), transfusing blood from an unseen victim, and painting with it. He hears the knocks at his door and prepares himself with a shotgun.
When one of the policemen is shot dead, a SWAT team arrives quickly and takes charge of matters. Gabriel manages to escape their gunfire by jumping through a window - but the fall injures him and he is unable to flee from the police waiting outside the building.
Under arrest, the police announce their 6-year hunt for a serial killer is now over. But while the bigwigs are busy slapping each other's backs in celebration of their catch, village cop Michael Martens (Wotan Wilke Mohring, ALMOST HEAVEN) is not so happy.
His life has been dominated by trying to catch the killer of a girl in his local village. He is still haunted by flashbacks of her agonised parents sobbing behind him as he searched for clues, many moons ago. The villagers, in particular Michael's bastard of a father-in-law, are tired of Michael's relentless obsession with cracking the case and advise him to back off now that the culprit has been caught. The father-in-law goes one better by shooting Michael's pet dog dead, just to get his point across ...
But Michael cannot rest until he knows for certain that Gabriel killed the little girl. It's an obsession that has aged Michael's long-suffering wife Rosa, and made him distant to his own troubled kids.
When the police interviewing Gabriel in his hospital bed seem to be getting nowhere with him (he initially taunts them with disturbingly graphic accounts of how he abused his young victims, then chooses to say nothing at all), Michael makes it his business to visit the killer himself and ask to interview him for his own peace of mind.
Gabriel takes to the troubled Michael and opens up to him in a way he never did with the other, more smug, officers. But the closer Michael gets to Gabriel, the more in danger he becomes of being allured by the evil he sees before him ...
ANTIBODIES is stunningly shot. The widescreen compositions are just great - especially the early outdoor scenes in Michael's tiny village, and the hunting-trip-gone-wrong he endures with his father-in-law. The cinematography really is the star of this show.
However, just behind the visually striking photography are the intense performances of leads Hennicke and Mohring. The latter in particular impresses greatly with a mature, multi-layered show of emotions and confused loyalties. It's a great insight into a man who has lost sight of what is the right thing to do. Hennicke starts off all wide-eyed and grinning, but settles into a more believable turn as the film progresses. At times, during the film's quieter moments, he's even creepy.
There's strong support, too, from a uniformly impressive cast. Director Christian Alvart has clearly thrown himself into making a greatly attentive film, both on an aesthetic and dramatic level. He's also clearly researched his subject matter, offering a look into the police procedural side of things that rivals another fine Euro serial killer film, ROBERTO SUCCO.
The film offers a nice balance of psychobabble, cat-and-mouse games a'la THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, police thriller and even family drama. People have complained the film is too slow, presumably because we do get to see a lot of Michael's background before he and Gabriel finally meet, but in the long run (wait for the twist ending) you'll see that it was all worthwhile and necessary.
Tartan's presentation is superb. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is pin-sharp, with good colour balance and great detail. It's a great relief that this stunningly lensed picture looks so good.
Likewise, the German audio tracks (available in a choice of 2.0, 5.1 or 5.1 DTS mixes) are all extremely reliable, beefy affairs. English subtitles are optional.
Static menus include a scene selection menu allowing access to the main feature via 16 chapters.
Extras include the original theatrical trailer, in anamorphic widescreen with German audio and optional English subtitles.
A 17-minute interview with writer-director Christian Alvart (CASE 39) is conducted in English, and is an interesting insight into his own motivations for making the film.
Less interesting are short interviews with co-stars Hennicke (4 minutes) and Mohring (2 minutes). These are in German audio with removable English subtitles.
Finally, we get a B-Roll - 4 minutes of Behind-The-Scenes footage on the set, in German with optional English subtitles.
Europe has produced many serial killer flicks over the last decade or so, so many so that it could be fair to say the market is becoming saturated. However, ANTIBODIES is a lot more considered than most. It's visually stunning, and takes times to tell it's story from both sides - offering some interesting moral conundrums along the way.
Well worth a look. I'd suggest seeing this though before the US remake gets released ...
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Tartan|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|