Michael review

The day-to-day life of an Austrian paedophile who keeps a child locked in his basement.

The massively powerful opening sequence (which is the basis for the film’s incredibly effective trailer) sets the tone immediately and unsettling scene follows disturbing scene all the way to the massively powerful ending that leaves you to fill in a huge what-happens-next.

No explicit judgement is passed on the lead character, played by Michael Fuith with frightening believability. There is no “this man is doing wrong” but through a multitude of memorable, chilling scenes, from an indoor snowball fight to Michael’s amusement and re-playing of a horrible joke, from a short walk with another child he intends to abduct to him digging a pre-emptive grave when his prisoner falls ill, an image of an extremely mentally unhealthy man is carefully painted and passing of judgement is left to the audience.

Although questions of writer-director Markus Schleinzer’s state of mind and motivations behind making the film arise, his storytelling is immaculate, firmly establishing a complex character and relationship whilst avoiding any stereotyping pitfalls and relying on minimal dialogue to the extent that subtitles are barely needed. The naturalistic end result is a truly scary film on a level no “traditional” horror movie can come close to.

4 out of 5

5th Mar 2012 | Official site | On IMDb