The Privilege, a new German horror movie on Netflix, has a promising beginning, though I think the editing is a little bit too quick for my taste. 11-year-old Finn is abducted from their home in a terrifying sequence by his apparently insane older sister Anna, who ultimately commits suicide in a terrifying sequence. Finn ultimately experiences psychological trauma as a result of it, and as an adult is advised to take anti-anxiety medications. He soon begins experiencing visions and sounds, realising that what he had previously thought to be mental hallucinations may actually be something much more supernatural.
The Privilege’s plot, at least in the first hour, is pretty lifted from the majority of teen horror films. Having feelings for Samira, Finn. He shares a crush with his best friend, who is much more self-assured than he is, on Samira. In that regard, one of the many subplots that the film attempts to address is the one described in the movie’s blurb, which claims that teens from a private school become involved in a nightmare situation. It serves as the movie’s central criticism, from which all other criticisms branch out.
The Privilege also proudly displays its sources of inspiration. However, it is in such a rush to combine all of its inspirations to produce a distinctive mixture that it ultimately turns out to be its biggest flaw. The plot diverges dramatically from the supernatural element and enters science fiction territory around the 40-minute mark. All of these concepts—from super drugs containing fungi to parasitic organisms taking control—are wildly divergent and do not combine in any recognisable way. The characters’ poor writing, which leaves them unable to transcend their fundamental archetypal structure, also doesn’t help. You don’t buy it when the investigative team of Finn, Lena, and Samira expands to a trio. Samira’s involvement in this cannot be explained by anything other than the fact that she happened to be in the right place at the right time. Perhaps the story needs to have all traces of believability removed.
If that were the case, the film shouldn’t have taken itself so seriously, though. The biggest regret for The Privilege is that. The cinematography and the graphic fatalities result in some stunning scenes. The cast is the second plus, which is an absolute disgrace. You’ll recognise the protagonist and most of his supporting cast if you’re a fan of DARK, one of Netflix’s hit German series. The cast gives its all, putting forth performances for characters with paper-thin depth and dimensions. They are totally devoted to the part.
But the film utterly loses me since it isn’t scary enough, even when it is exploring its supernatural side. Before moving on to the next plot strand, it doesn’t give the creepiness or the dread time to breathe. However, the film starts to turn slightly entertaining when it takes on a science-fiction bent. By that time, the investigative aspects have taken over, leaving you to wonder how everything is connected. However, until the climax, the resolution and hence the explanation aren’t fully explained. However, it’s already too late. The film feels longer than its one hundred and seven minute running time, but the last 10 minutes feel rushed in an effort to make the finale as impactful as possible. Rapid sequence of events, such as escaping a burning building and getting into another vehicle accident, gives you a rush of adrenaline, but an adrenaline rush without a sustained build-up feels like empty calories.
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The plot and the reasons for these evil plans are practically never explained, possibly because the creators hope to extend plot lines in order to launch a franchise. Even though the forced cliffhanger at the end of this film is almost Netflix’s bread and butter at this time, I couldn’t help but let out an audible groan. If I stop and think about it for a moment, the cliffhanger conclusion was practically a given. However, I was clinging to the hope because I needed an answer to a fundamental question: Is there room for a full standalone novel without branching out into a franchise? Horror as a genre is flexible enough that certain films can exist without explanations since the mood, tone, and atmosphere are sufficient to evoke an emotion in the viewer. At the end of the first movie, without branching off into a second movie, which might not happen, explanations for those varied concepts and story lines are kind of to be anticipated when the writers are carefully putting them. It’s a shame because the acting is excellent and the film is well-shot and so appealing to the eye. Despite how cheap they may appear, there are also some fantastic visual effects moments. If this film stuck to one theme and developed it, it might succeed. Or it needed to be a miniseries since it already included too many ideas as constituents. Because a few more hours could have given the characters greater depth, letting those ideas sit and taking on a much more cogent form. Currently, what we have is just a movie with unrealized potential that confuses genre tone, body horror, social commentary, and supernatural cheap thrills while failing to deliver on any of these promises and falling flat on its face.
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