The Privilege (Das Privileg), a German Netflix film, is a romantic teen drama supernatural horror paranoid conspiracy thriller. If that seems like a lot of movies, you’d be right on the money. Although I don’t believe that’s the purpose, it may also be a comedy, which may or may not be a good thing. Let’s look into it more, shall we?
THE PRIVILEGE: IS IT WORTH WATCHING?
The Short Version: When Finn was a young child, he endured a terrifying ordeal: His sister, who was then an adolescent, lost her mind and tried to push him off a bridge. After some time passes, Finn (Max Schimmelpfennig), a high school student, is still struggling with the psychological effects of the tragedy. He goes through a number of medical stress tests and the like, and the doctor advises him to take this medication because the trauma had harmed his brain. Maybe all of this explains why he tends to be a bit of a loner at school, silent and sullen. However, he has a best friend named Lena (Lea van Acken), and that adorable young lady over there, Samira (Tijan Marei), can’t stop grinning at him and flipping her hair in slow motion, as if she were Vidal SassOON.
Lena asks Finn, “Can you believe we only have six months till graduation?” which is a stupid thing to say because of course he knows there’s only six months before graduation, but I guess WE didn’t know there’s only six months until graduation. Finn only has six months until graduation. Cut to biology class, where Finn and Lena are listening to a lecture about that bizarre fungus that infects ants, grows out the tops of their heads, and transforms them into zombies. Since this scene is completely unrelated to the movie’s plot, let’s just keep watching and only take note of it if we need to in the future.
Anyway. If Samira was aware of Finn’s long list of problems, she might not be interested. He experiences bizarre hallucinations. He snores walks. He creates eerie drawings in his journal. And his parents are obscenely wealthy; they live in one of those contemporary homes with a high-tech security system, floor to ceiling windows, and so many sharp 90-degree angles that you need elbow guards just to go around the place. When Finn wakes up in the middle of the night and sees a strange ceremony involving his parents and twin sister Sophie (Milena Tscharntke), things start to get even stranger. But surely, it was just a twisted dream, right? Of course. Then, Sophie’s boyfriend turns up dead in a car wash; Finn visits his sick grandfather in the hospital, which would be a touching scene if the menacing music weren’t there to tell us it wasn’t; he keeps seeing some kind of ethereal, growling demon-specter; and isn’t it time Finn and Lena talked to a psychic medium who also sells marijuana? It is. Yes, it is. Because something is going on, but I won’t explain what because it partially makes no sense.
Which Films Does It Remind You Of? Imagine a mash-up of Get Out, Hereditary, Rosemary’s Baby, Midsommar, The Conjuring, Insidious, and Saw, together with Resident Evil’s focus on big pharma and the merest hint of Parasite’s social satire. That is The Privilege’s great, chaotic mess.
Performance to Watch: As the bestie who doesn’t give a damn, van Acken adds some humour to this pointless garbage, but she is ultimately constrained by its lack of direction.
Memorable Dialogue: This conversation between Finn and Samira, his crush, embodies romance at its finest:
Finn: Speaking with you was my greatest fantasy. So now…
Samira: And now we’re checking for demonic corpse fungi on each other?
Come for the ludicrous horror-conspiracy narrative, Sex and Skin. STAY (I guess?) for the thrown-in non-nude threesome sequence with random asses.
Our Opinion: A word of caution: Despite The Privilege’s encouragement to do so, in my opinion, you shouldn’t take it too seriously. It’s difficult to discern because the movie initially appears to be a drama with a horror flair about an adolescent who is struggling with serious psychotrauma. But after that, there are too many things. It’s a clumsily put-together goulash of sequences that change in tone, from kissy teen romance to what’s-out-there-BOO! ghost story to mystery yarn to don’t believe what they’re feeding you conspiracy involving teens and adults, to social criticism. And none of it even comes close to working. Or understandable. Or satisfying on any level, really.
The plot holes in this movie are not plot holes; they are PLOT HOLES. One theory is that because it is so jam-packed with hammer-on-anvil musical cues and unrelenting sound effects, the score composer and sound designer were competing to be the most over-the-top. The major climax is overburdened with unnecessary special effects. The movie has the arrogance to seem to suggest that we take the dialogue seriously when a character asks a homicide detective, “Why would you strangle yourself with a cable tie?” and the detective responds, “Drugs,” which is sort of amusing. It’s difficult to characterise the main narrative because it is so ridiculous and uninteresting, but it involves gaslighting teenagers. I believe the film is attempting to dupe us into believing it’s entertaining.
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