Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Starring Wotan Wilke Mohring, Andre Hennicke, Heinz Hoenig and Hauke Diekamp
Directed by Christian Alvart
Distributed by Dark Sky Films
When I was asked if I wanted to review the German thriller, Antibodies, it was pitched to me as having lots of naked German dong, pedophilia, and other assorted nasty bits. How could I refuse? I do love my exploitation. The DVD arrived in the mail complete with post-its attached promising that the film would also “cover your junk”. Intriguing, no?
Admittedly it has taken me quite a bit longer to get to watching and reviewing the film than I would have liked. One of the reasons for this was the fact that my husband lives in fear of being forced to watch ANY DVD that I receive from fellow writers here at Dread Central. The other was the 128-minute running time! Finding time in my schedule to watch the usual 90-minute film proves to be difficult enough, but when it comes to a movie that is over 2 hours long…UGH! I’d rather play Ichi the Killer with my nipples than devote that much time to a film, especially from Foy or Kryten!
To my great surprise though, the more I saw of Antibodies, the more I found myself wishing I had viewed it earlier! The film was simply stunning! As a fan of both Silence of the Lambs and SE7EN, I watched Antibodies take elements from both films and meld them together into a brilliant combination of relentlessly tense cinema. The nicest thing was that even though Dr. Hannibal Lecter was named outright in the film, it never felt as if either of the influential films were being flaunted or copied in any direct manner.
The film begins with a naked man being pursued and apprehended by the Berlin police force after you see him working on his morbidly gruesome works of art. You are then introduced to a rural police officer, Michael Martens, who is called upon as the only person the newly captive child killer will speak to. During the film you are taken through the twists and turns of Gabriel Engel’s devious mind as he recounts his grisly crimes of pedophilia and murder. The audience is drawn deeper and deeper into the story as they try to unravel the mystery of why Engel is so intent on keeping Michael involved in the investigation against him.
The uniquely told story is made even more effective and powerful by the phenomenal production quality. This fact is made all the more amazing because they were working with a small percentage of their original budget. With beautifully directed scenes that are framed in the most imaginatively efficient way along with some stellar acting, the film was a pleasure to watch. This is often difficult to do when tackling such volatile subject matters, but director Christian Alvart does it with a skill that is rarely seen.
Antibodies comes in a very nice double-disc set that includes a beautiful widescreen presentation of the film with German language and English subtitles, a trailer, and press teaser. The second disc in the set contains the “Evil is a Virus,” an in-depth look at the film’s dark subject matter with the director Christian Alvart, a Making Of Antibodies featurette, deleted scenes, and outtakes.
The thirty-minute featurette is a very interesting and informative interview with the director that actually explains several aspects of the film and his reasons for approaching it the way he did. It even makes a bit more sense out of one particular scene from the end of the movie that almost caused the whole thing to derail in a CGI train wreck. I’m relieved to know that even the director is unhappy with that particular scene. The featurette is also in English with minimal subtitles.
The Making of Antibodies segment contains interviews with most of the cast and some crew. It details multiple facets of the film’s creation including casting, writing, storyboarding, and shooting on the tight schedule and budget that they had. The featurette is presented in German with English subtitles and is equally as interesting as the first extra I mentioned.
The deleted scenes and outtakes are the typical finds for such a DVD set. They are mildly interesting, but not much point to them, especially if you don’t speak German. There are very few subtitles so you just have to guess what’s so funny most of the time. I can’t say they detract from the set; I just don’t think they add all that much value either.
In conclusion I must reiterate the fact that I wish I would have watched Antibodies sooner rather than later. It may not be a film that everyone will enjoy, but I guarantee that for those who do like it, it will become a fast favorite. It’s a fantastic film!
4 1/2 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5