Written by: deadhorse13
Antibodies is an intense German thriller that takes its cues from American serial killer fare such as Silence Of The Lambs and Seven, and somehow manages to convey those terrors on a much more personal level for the viewer. The film is not without its flaws and the ending will require some suspension of disbelief, but this is pretty par for the course in any of the best this genre usually offers. Antibodies effectively gets into your head so to speak. You may not care for the heavy-handed ending but you’ll have been sent through the ringer to get there and for that fact alone this movie scores big points.
After six long years suspected serial killer, pederast, and carving artist Gabriel Engel is apprehended in the city after a violent police confrontation and is held for questioning. Michael, a devoutly religious small town cop disillusioned with his own effectiveness in protecting his community is desperate to find closure to a local tragedy. It seems that only a year ago a young girl was brutalized in Michael’s small neck of the woods and the case has remained unsolved. He decides to interrogate Mr. Engel in the hopes of tying him to the girl’s murder but their discourse actually raises more questions than provides real answers.
A tense cat-and-mouse game is shared between our two leads, eventually linking Engel to the crime, but there is more going on here than meets the eye. Evidence is found to suggest that another person might well have been in on the slaying forcing Michael to reexamine his own role in this twisted tale. The murderer promises him the answer but only if they play by his rules (of course). Their conversations cause him to tap his own dark primeval desires and Engel relishes aiding in the man’s rapidly crumbling belief system. To add urgency to the proceedings he then poisons himself allowing Michael only 48 hours to reassemble the missing pieces of his shattered faith.
Unable to come to terms with being an ineffective father, husband, lawman and servant of God, Michael decides to deliver the lamb to slaughter personally. What up to this point had been an exceptionally executed work of suspense falls a little short in the final frames due to the overt religious references and implied parallels and the slightly coincidental twist ending. Not to say that the ending doesn’t work, it just falls out of character with the rest of the film which manages to nest in your gut and stay there.
The movie as a whole especially excels in its characterization, the actors perform their roles with not a hint of contrivance. The photography is exquisite, contrasting the dark nature of the subject matter with the gorgeously lensed countryside. The plot has few real gaps, is paced perfectly and holds some interesting twists and turns which keeps you nestled firmly on your duff for its duration. As I mentioned before the ending seems a little forced but it does deliver a fairly satisfactory conclusion.
Antibodies succeeds in taking you on a harrowing journey of one lost soul trying to quell inherent evil and the moral maelstrom he faces along the way. If the intent of the director was to have us question where we lie in the battle between good and evil then the film delivers in spades – just don’t overthink that ending.
8 on a 10 scale, and look for a brief cameo by The Boondock Saints’ own Norman Reedus!