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I had quite high expectations on this, as this seems to be the darling of thriller critics since it showed up in the late 1980s – and it surely help to stabilize its acclaim that the US remake has apprently been a completely useless attempt, even though the same directior tried his best. The film has its moments, but at the end of the day, I felt left with a certain want for more that did not get quite satisfied. The starting situation is, of course, a very uncomfortable one, with the woman disappearing all of a sudden, without any clue, any trace, anywhere to look for. That situation must be horrible, as everybody surely has realised who could not find his friend, relative etc. and for a second, just for a second thought into this possibility: what if he/she does not show up again, if there is no trace. What emotions would there be if you just for the life of you cannot do a bloody thing?

Spoilers from here on:
The way we get a look into the ordinary life of an ordinary kidnapper and murderer is of pleasant casualness, as is the man himself. Murderer more out of intellectual nosiness than out of any more human interest such as hate or disappointedness or bad youth or whatever else serves as an excuse. He wants to do the worst imaginable thing to somebody, and he creates himself the chance of doing it. Rex, the guy who lost his girlfriend at the gas station, can only stand or sit around for the rest of the film, with the script having not too much to offer for him than a mixture of rage and paralysis, with the balance between the two shifting now and again.

There are multiple time levels involved, the narrative jumping between pre-kidnap, kidnap and post-kidnapping time, filling you in on the background of the supposedly brilliant kidnapping professor (interesting question: is it just my personal taste, or is this guy a disgusting prick from the very beginning? Culminating in my utter distaste for people who sit at the dining table, calling “my glasses!” and expecting some family member to jump up and get them).

After the kidnapper reveals himself to Rex after three years, there is new motion, driven by the kidnapper, and accepted by Rex in a fashion that puts the credibility framework of the film under considerable strain. Why would you give yourself up into the hands of somebody who most likely killed your girlfriend? He did not really make it a secret that whatever happened to the girl will happen to Rex, too? Yes you can either drink the Schirling cup or leave it, there is always choice, but if you drink it, you don’t deserve too much sympathy if it turns out to be poisonous. Of course, Rex realises at the end of the film that other options may have been more beneficial, but he does not have much choice but to play along to the very end, does he?

A bit overrated, I would judge, but still a pleasantly unpleasant story, unless you happen to be claustrophobic, in which case I recommend to stop the DVD around minute 95…

DVD Verdict:

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