A strange phenomenon will take place at every “Antibodies” screening. The term “quid pro quo” will creep itself into the minds of the audience and will linger there throughout most of the film. Believe it…..or not.
After a brutal showdown, and one helluva rousing opening scene, featuring shotgun violence, dead cops, a dying kid, and a naked guy flying out a window, serial boy rapist and killer Gabriel Engel is captured by the fuzz, ending his six year reign of terror in Berlin. He readily admits to all of the child slayings, and even engages in a bit of oversharing as he’s a bit too forthcoming with the grisly details of his evil deeds. But, his loose lips come to a permanent close as he’s locked away in his private cell, confined to a wheelchair. One would think that the case was closed.
Enter countryside police officer, Michael Martens. Not long ago, a young girl, a friend of his teenage son, was brutally murdered. Ever since, Martens has been plagued with nightmares, as well as an overbearing sense of guilt in being unable to track down the girl’s killer. When word that the serial killer Gabriel Engel has been captured in the city, Martens believes that there could be some connection to their local killing and so he travels to Berlin to interrogate Gabriel about the dead girl, Lucia Flieder. As it turns out, Martens is the only person Gabriel wants to speak with and insists to do so in private. The interrogation begins and Martens finds that, if he didn’t kill Lucia himself, Gabriel definitely knows something about what happened, but the convicted killer insists on drilling his way into Martens’ head, planting seeds of evil and clearing way a path for the country cop to solve the mystery himself. And so begins a descent into darkness for good cop Martens as he reluctantly becomes acquainted with his evil side, growing closer to the horrible truth of what exactly happened to Lucia Flieder.
Yes, “Antibodies” does bear some striking similarities to “Manhunter” and especially “Silence of the Lambs.” But these similarities wouldn’t be as bothersome if it weren’t for a Hannibal Lector joke made earlier on in the film. It’s a little wink and a nod to the audience as if to be the first to call out the striking resemblance before anyone else gets the chance to cry foul. Then, once this announcement is made, our faces are shoved directly into this relationship between Martens and Gabriel that is shockingly very much like that of Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lector. It’s a bit much to handle at times.
Fortunately, the film does find its own path as Martens is put through the wringer before any mystery can get even close to being solved. “Antibodies” does fasten a tight squeeze on its audience, right from the get go, and even despite the long run time, just over two hours, it’s a consistently tense ride. Fans of serial killer thrillers will definitely want to check this out.
Word has it that an American remake is in the works. It’s pretty funny if you think about it, as this is kind of a loose German remake of “Silence of the Lambs,” so…