(Credit: Netflix)

Film Reviews

Netflix's 'The Privilege': Pathetically amusing and devoid of scares

'The Privilege'- Felix Fucssteiner, Katharina Schode
5.4

German filmmakers Felix Fucssteiner and Katharina Schode’s German Netflix film The Privilege (Das Privilege) had supposedly left viewers creeped out with its eerie visuals and terrifying storyline. However, to a horror aficionado, the film seemed more of a regret-watch. 

Netflix has reached its peak in regions like the US and the UK. To aim for greater subscriber growth, they have begun investing in original local content to appeal to a broader audience. The release of the latest German horror film seems to be a part of their new scheme. Previously, Netflix viewers have enjoyed exclusive German movies and shows, namely Blood Red Sky, Dark, Die Welle and more. However, the horror release seems to be a confusing crossover between the various horror sub-genres that makes it appear more amusing than creepy. 

The film revolves around elite families who send their children to private school with elements of romance, teen drama, and supernatural horror. Finn, played incredibly by Max Schimmelpfennig, undergoes deep childhood trauma after witnessing the death of his older sister, Anna. Before her death, the latter’s mouth is streaked with blood and she tells Finn that a nameless entity is pursuing them. 

In high school, Finn is somewhat a loner, with a quirky best friend named Lena, as he still deals with the aftermath of the childhood incident. He is prescribed a medication, inside which he discovers parasitic worms that grow on dead bodies. Ridden with paranoia, insomnia and terror, Finn’s hallucinations and dreams cause him to face various fever-dream sequences, including a blood-bath at the rave party, his best friend and his crush making out while drenched in blood, his family offering his twin sister Sophie to a cult and many more. 

However, Finn’s suspicions regarding the presence of a looming evil are confirmed when Sophie’s ex-boyfriend dies, and various other creepy events occur. In the end, Finn and Lena chance upon the dangerous origins of a cult and find out more about their individual identities. Having uncovered the conspiracy, they, along with his crush, Samira, put an end to it and the trio seemingly escaped the vicious clutches of the demonic presence. However, the climax says otherwise. 

With plenty of sexual content, including a doomsday threesome, the film explores the lives of high school students as they try and deal with adults gaslighting them while battling the intense desire to consume drugs and attend raves. The film begins off on a pretty sinister note and seems promising with all the aerial shots and strangely claustrophobic panning of the cameras. However, the filmmakers soon lose their vision and give in to the urges of creating a convoluted mess that cannot prevent the film from being the disaster it is. 

While the actors deliver pretty good performances, Schimmelpfennig’s role as Finn is noteworthy as he manages to bring out the anxieties of a teenager as he is emotionally ostracised by all for being allegedly delusional. His pained expression as Finn deals with the ghosts of his past along with the intense trauma weighing down his sensibility helps establish his prolific acting skills. 

Though initially pretty intense and scary, The Privilege loses its tempo midway into the film and is not deft in its handling of cults and other supernatural horror elements. If anything, it is indeed a privilege on the part of the filmmakers to have acquired an actor like Schimmelpfennig in such a sorry excuse of a horror film!