DVD - 2012 | German
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A seemingly meek insurance agent has a secret: he's holding 10-year-old Wolfgang captive in a locked room in his basement. Chronicling a five-month period, the film creates a tense portrait of how the most mundane lives can mask the ugliest truth. With rich cinematic detail and unnerving insight, it's a masterfully executed study of a monster.


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Feb 14, 2017

Set aside some time to watch this one, because every scene in this deadpan film has an important detail, or an implication that will take your breath away. Only on second viewing did I really see the rejected Xmas tree, the jumping cat, and the drinks cupboard in the unfinished basement. It uses no score, nor tricky camera angles, but as your imagination fills in the blanks, the story becomes almost unbearably tense. If you have children, watch this film, if you can, and give them a hug afterwards.

Dec 31, 2014

Films dealing with pedophiles are not the easiest to watch nor, apparently, are they the easiest to make falling as they do into two main traps; over-psychoanalyzing their subject or demonizing the offender to the point where you expect pitchfork-wielding peasants to storm his front yard. Not so with Markus Schleinzer’s disturbingly restrained opus examining the shifting relationship between Michael, a mousy 30-year-old office drone, and Wolfgang, the 10-year-old boy he keeps locked up in a secret basement room letting him out only at night when the doors and windows are firmly locked and shuttered. In this tightly edited and finely nuanced film it is the sheer ordinariness of their routine that proves the most unsettling as they wash dishes together, do housework and go on small outings where Wolfgang dutifully keeps to himself despite countless passersby. And in the evening they watch TV before Michael locks the boy up for the night in his IKEA furnished cell, sometimes joining him with a bottle of lube in hand. With a cold, impersonal eye reminiscent of Haneke, Schleinzer shows Michael for what he is; an immature, emotionally stunted man-child sans devil’s horns (they’re not needed), while Wolfgang’s progression from obedient timidity to sullen resentment and, finally, outright rage are traced with a clinical precision bordering on detachment. In so doing Schleinzer not only imparts an almost subliminal aura of dread and anxiety but sets us up for the film’s intensely powerful one second final frame. Dark, uncompromising, and very very Austrian.

Green_Bird_203 Dec 05, 2014

Cinematic style is Bressonian. Well done.

Froster Nov 29, 2014

First let's say it, "YIKES". This is a minutely-observed, low-keyed, dispassionate movie about the domestic life of a pedophile and the little boy he keeps captive in his basement. (Again, "YIKES"). But it is certainly not without wit, and a kind of wry "fly on the wall" style that keeps one engaged even though the proceedings are kept on a low boil intentionally. (THANK GOD). The phrase "the banality of evil" comes to mind constantly, and I think it is not entirely coincidental that this is an Austrian film. The lack of histrionics, however, does not mean that the film lacks drama. Certainly not; in fact it does create , at times, an almost unbearable tension. It has been compared many times to Haneke's "Funny Games", but in fact I find it far more subversive than that, as the Haneke film depends very much on a Brechtian "alienation" effect, whereby the filmmaker lets his audience know that he is intentionally manipulating them. Michael provides no easy outs. and is, to my mind, a far more disturbing, compelling exercise. Truly a shocker, and extraordinarily well done. Bravo. (But it is not for the timid).

kurasawa1 Jan 08, 2014

Potent film - important

SilkyNara Mar 16, 2013

viewed on a recommendation. Not for the squeamish or those seeking drama. A slow jog through a twisted man's exploitation of a child.

EuSei Jan 02, 2013

We accidentally got this movie from the library and regret it. There was no mention anywhere (in the movie Description) the main character was a pederast. (Incidentally, the guy who slaughtered people at the “Batman” premier chose the only theater in the neighborhood where guns are not allowed…) This kind of movie desensitizes the viewer and turns a horrendous crime (an adult male continuously sexually abusing a defenseless young boy for months!) into a mere, simple character study, the humanization of a monster, glamourizing the worse traits in a human being that should cause horror and disgust to any normal person. (I can't imagine Hitler's story being more interesting than any of his victims!) There is no need to try to “understand” why he did what he did, because trying to understand will never, ever prevent another monster to commit a crime. Yet, that shouldn’t stop normal human beings from harshly condemning psychopaths. No, Michael is not a real-life character—although I believe it was inspired by the Kampusch and Fritzl cases. No, Michael has no explicit sex—although he exposes himself to the boy and says obscenities while having dinner. I wonder why someone would enjoy making a movie about a man who sexually abuses a child. But then you look at a picture of Markus Schleinzer and he looks very much like the character his movie portrays… NOTICE: Attempts to censor my comments will be fiercely fought under the aegis of American Library Association's beloved principles: Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Read, Intellectual Freedom.

jmmason Dec 31, 2012

Shakespeare thought the Lady doth protest too much. So many news items about unusual crimes focus on the victims. For me, the guy who dyed his hair orange and went on a shooting spree at the "Batman" premiere was/is far more interesting than any of the people he killed. At least he had a plan. Likewise for the kid who shot all those children in Connecticut; he had a plan. Yes, it was a massacre, but it was also a matricide and a suicide. His story was/is far more interesting and compelling than that of any of his victims. The success of "Michael" is that the film maker keeps his focus on the perpetrator and not on the victim. We know very little about the child, except that he put the puzzle pieces together and acted like the Frankenstein monster towards Michael in one scene. He was clever enough to concoct a steaming potion which blinded his captor. But we know nothing about his background. We don't know much about Michael's history except that he is on the dull side and leads a rather sombre life. He is a capable-enough worker to be considered for a promotion. The creepiest scene in the movie is when he lures a small boy to a parking lot. We already know he has purchased and assembled a second berth for the basement bunker. He has a plan.

Glencoe_Mike Jul 19, 2012

A very tough movie to review. It certainly knows the quiet tone that it wants to achieve and carries it through the film. Hard to watch yet less graphic than you might fear. If you enjoy Michael Haneke you might like this.

voisjoe1 Jul 08, 2012

A portrait of Michael, a psychopath, and his victim. Maybe only the victim knows that something is wrong with Michael. This film shows that even the closest relatives or friends may have no clue as to how warped a personality is lurking in their midst. In some ways, Michael's existence may mirror that of the infamous Jerry Sandusky of Penn State. Although the film is fictional, it may be the truest portrait of the typical pedophile. Some viewers seen to contrast this film with fictional crime action films suggesting that this possibly truest portrait is too boring.

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ecrl Feb 20, 2016

ecrl thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

EuSei Mar 21, 2013

EuSei thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

voisjoe1 Jul 08, 2012

voisjoe1 thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


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