Director – Christian Alvart
Cast – Wotan Wilke Möhring, André Hennicke, Heinz Hoenig, Ulrike Krumbiegel, Hauke Diekamp, Konstantin Graudus
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Despite my interest in this flick due to it being the sophomore effort of Christian Alvart(Pandorum, Case 39), Antibodies has been on my queue for a very long time, mainly because I could never afford myself the required two hours it takes to view this flick every time I came across it. Well, I’m done being a snob with my time and I can honestly say that Antibodies was just as good as I expected it to be. Coming off somewhat as the German answer to The Silence of the Lambs, we are given a unique serial killer story that comes with numerous twists and turns and delivers some good horror as well.
When a highly sought-after serial killer Gabriel Engel is finally caught, small town police officer Michael Martens makes his way to the big city to interrogate the killer he believes committed a savage unsolved murder in his small town several years prior. Hoping to get a confession and finally close the case on the crime that left his town’s psyche shattered, Michael instead falls victim to Gabriel’s psychological torment, and finds himself not only questioning his beliefs but just as much a danger to the community he swore to protect.
Serial killer films always grab my attention due to the psychological nature involved, and this story from horror veteran Christian Alvart comes with superbly-written psychological horror that was utterly enjoyable and perfectly paced and developed. Michael Martens consisted of everything good that a person could be, he lives by religious values that make him a great family man and honorable officer, although his search for the killer of a young girl friend of his son has left him saddened and frustrated. Gabriel Engel is the complete opposite, a loner who meticulously planned and executed 14 heinous crimes and still considers himself capable of adding to that list despite him being in a high security prison facility. From the moment Michael meets Gabriel it is obvious that the small-town cop Michael is out of his league as Gabriel toys with him and makes him look silly in front of the veteran state and federal officers watching, and things only get better from there on out.
The story takes its time developing, and focuses heavily on both the investigational aspect of Michael using Gabriel to find the girl’s killer, as well as the psychological aspect of Michael suffering the effects of dealing with the highly convincing Gabriel. Numerous twists and turns abound, with many creative ideas thrown into the investigation that had me hooked and guessing. We are lead to believe that Gabriel is responsible for the crime, then just involved in the crime, which goes back and forth until the film’s harrowing climax which itself comes with several twists and turns. I loved this story, and Alvart’s screenplay is incredibly well written with great dialogue and good character development. Watching Michael’s descent from do-good Catholic man to a man indulging in the sins of the flesh was awesome, and just another aspect of horror he must face combined with the grisly killer he must deal with on a daily basis.
Alvart’s direction is fantastic as usual, with great atmosphere and scenery very reminiscent of the events going on. The countryside scenes offer tranquility and a bright blue sky, whereas the city scenes in which we see Gabriel are dark and gloomy. This may seem simple, but as far as viewer engagement it works very well. Every actor involved gave a great performance, but as expected the guy portraying the serial killer stands out from the rest, and in this case his name is Andre Hennicke. We do not get much regarding gore, and that is due to the fact that most of the dead are shown post-mortem due. I did not see this as an issue because this is a horror film focusing on the horror of a demented man and the kind man he tries to bring down with him, not a hack and slash film.
Overall, Antibodies is a great story-driven serial killer film that gives us a superb story with plenty of development and numerous engaging twists and turns. Alvart’s direction is good as usual, and he executes every element positively, resulting in my recommendation of this German answer to The Silence of the Lambs.