My pen pal from Germany recommended this German film, and once I saw that everyone on IMDb was ga-ga about it, it went to the top of my list. We open with a quote: “If there is no God, then everything is allowed.” Well, I guess that explains men wearing Capri pants. We see a guy painting in blood as we hear his voice-over, lamenting that the great killers of history are not honored, while serial killers with a relatively low body count become celebrities. Where is the justice? Meanwhile, two cops are pounding at his door. One of them gets a rude surprise, and soon a massive SWAT team is called in. The killer makes an incredible escape—naked—but is soon apprehended by Detective Seiler, who has been on the case for, like, ever.
Then we shift to a small German town, where our hero Michael, who looks like Daniel Craig’s little brother, is going hunting with his father-in-law. Michael is the local policeman, and he is obsessed with finding the killer of a young girl from the town. He wants saliva samples from everyone in town, and his father-in-law, who thinks he needs to just get over it and drop the whole thing, makes his point in a rather threatening and cruel manner, one that is not friendly to family pets. We find out that Michael’s wife is not being treated well and quite wearied by her husband’s obsession with the killer. Michael is confronted by all the men in town on his way home: the news has just come in that they’ve caught the killer. Now will he just fucking drop it?
Meanwhile, the killer is being interrogated by the police. He demands a red notebook and a set of crayons. He starts talking about killing a young boy [he is suspected of raping and killing numerous children of both sexes, but evidence of only boys has been found]. He describes fucking a young boy as he is killing him [this movie is not for those of a delicate constitution], and the detectives freak out because he is whacking off as he describes the rape/murder! From that time the killer refuses to talk.
But all is not well in Michael’s household. It seems that his son got in trouble for exposing himself at school [and I don't mean his emotions]. His mother has a talk about how we all have to decide if we want to act in a way that is decent or indecent, and the son chooses indecent! That night he sets fire to his sister’s dollhouse. Hmm, troubled household. We find out that Michael was the one that found the little girl, which is why he is so obsessed. He just can’t accept that the guy they caught is actually the killer, and finally goes to the city and insists on talking to the killer himself. Seiler, exasperated because the killer has refused to speak for so long, grants his wish.
The killer is fascinated by Michael, and starts to play mind games with him. Hannibal Lecter is name-checked almost at once as a way of acknowledging the similarity in the situations. The killer goads him to get angry and admit the rage he feels, continuing to ask him what he thinks as he fucks his wife. Turns out this line of inquiry is getting to Michael, who watches hotel softcore as he talks to his wife, flirts with a local shopkeeper, but angrily refuses the prostitutes the detective arranges for him. Blah, blah, more talk.
SPOILERS > > >
The case looks cold when Michael finds the victim’s underwear in the killer’s apartment, including the girl’s underwear. But things go awry again when they find two different guys’ sperm on the underwear. So Michael is back to asking for saliva samples from the town, which everyone does, except the father-in-law. But it’s soon revealed that it can’t be him. Meanwhile Michael is struggling with the growing rage and frustration inside him.
So right at the end the killer tells Michael that his son did it! And then his DNA confirms that yup, that’s his son’s spooge on the panties. Then, uh-oh, the sermon that morning is about Abraham and Isaac! I think we can ALL tell where this is going. Will Michael be stopped in time, before he blasts a cap in his son’s head? Only the woodland creatures, who make a [sorry, unspeakably adorable] entrance at the end, know for sure.
< < < SPOILERS END
Hmmm, yes and no. Overall it was very dirty, gritty and fascinating [and will be more so in proportion to how enthralling you find serial killers], and one of the more convincing cases of how the “evil” of the killer can fester and grow in the mind of the “good.” On the other hand, it’s branching out in all sorts of directions, all vaguely related and all vaguely interesting, but they don’t really seem to be drawn together in the end, leaving one with a bit of “What was that about?” and its distant cousin, “Why did I have to sit through that?” Some of the threads just seems extraneous, but on the other hand one can appreciate the measured pacing of the movie and how it casts its net wide. Eh, I suppose.
So ultimately, pretty good, interesting, but not great. Your interest in it will depend on how interesting you find serial killers in general. Me, not all that much. But I have to say—cuuuuuute like woodland creatures!
If you’re really into serial killer movies and would like to see a particularly dirty, gritty one.