Antibodies (3 stars)

(18) 122min


Devoutly religious family man and village policeman Michael Martens (Wotan Wilke Möhring) is having a bad year. A young girl, his son’s best friend, has been murdered on his patch, plus most of the village hates him because he insists that DNA swab samples are taken from all 389 residents. When legendary serial boy killer Gabriel Engel (Andre Hennicke) is finally captured by big city police, however, Michael is allowed time with him to find out if girls had also been part of his back catalogue. Engels refuses to talk to anyone but Martens, so the rural cop soon becomes central to the investigation, but the toll on him - spiritually, emotionally and physically is to be huge.

Immensely promising German auteur, and former editor of German movie fanzine X-TRO, Christian Alvert’s second feature (after 1999’s unsettling sadomasochist thriller Curiosity & the Cat) is an expertly realised, darkly engrossing affair. A superb opening sequence gives way to a thriller, which, though fêted for its similarities in parts to both Se7en and The Silence of the Lambs, actually shares more ground with Sidney Lumet’s procedural policiers (Prince of the City, Q&A), Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (from a theological meltdown perspective anyway) and Wolf Rilla’s remarkable minimalist adaptation of John Wyndham’s Village of the Damned.

Despite its excessive length and occasionally terrible script full of arse aching exposition and some really dodgy shouty performances (mostly from the big city pigs) Antibodies still manages to intrigue and fascinate as it details one man’s decent into a personal hell. Alvert, who is currently shooting social worker thriller Case 39 with Renee Zellweger, is certainly a filmmaker to keep an eye on from the Deutsch Republik.

Cineworld Renfrew Street, Glasgow from Fri 17 Nov.

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