Berlin Syndrome

3.5 Stars

If you feel like having a sinking feeling in your stomach for close to two hours…

Clare (Teresa Palmer) is an Australian backpacking around Germany on her own. Her life is turned upside down when she meets a teacher named Andi (Max Riemelt) on the streets of Berlin.

From the start, Clare seems vulnerable as she is travelling solo, but there’s nothing to increase your concern for a character than to share similarities with them. As an Australian with my family over the other side of the world, I was able to relate to some extent. It didn’t hurt that Teresa Palmer and Max Riemelt put in convincing performances as Clare and Andi.

Berlin Syndrome is actually an Australian-made film, but Clare is the only Australian character so it feels more like a German production.

The general plot is fairly predictable, but the film is very well executed and has a few nuances that give extra interest – such as Andi’s multi-faceted character. This makes it feel much more true-to-life whilst adding some uncertainty as to what might happen next. If not for lack of originality in the overall story, I would have given this at least 4 stars. All things considered, it lingers between 3.5 and 4.

Berlin Syndrome is released on DVD in Sweden on 18 September.


3 Stars

Good enough.

I was really hoping to be blown away by director Andy Muschietti’s incarnation of Stephen King’s classic novel. And while I can see that it really was necessary to bring it up to date with modern audiences, (check clips from the 1990 miniseries on YouTube and you’ll see how cheap and cheerful it looks!) and it did have a fair share of positive notes, on the whole it didn’t leave me feeling wowed.

It’s 1988 in the small town of Derry when Bill’s (Jaeden Lieberher) little brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) goes missing after being coaxed towards a drain by Pennywise the clown (Bill Skarsgård). As other local children start to disappear, Bill and a group of friends band together to look for his lost sibling.

Bill Skarsgård is no doubt a fantastic actor and is completely transformed as Pennywise. But he lacks the same level of playfulness and aggression that helped to make Tim Curry’s version (from the 1990 adaptation) all the more terrifying. As with anything scary, there is often a lot more to be said for what you don’t see than what you do. I found two scenes in the film to be particularly creepy and neither of them had clear glimpses of Pennywise.

Sophia Lillis did a great job as the only girl in the group of friends, Beverly Marsh. She came across as natural and endearing.

It’s obvious even from the trailer that there are some similarities to ‘Stranger Things’, from the period in which it is set, right down to the cast including actor Finn Wolfhard. But it doesn’t have the same eerie vibe as Stranger Things – that would have added some extra points in my book.

Nonetheless, I appreciated that there was a good moral message – and if nothing else you can leave the cinema with something of value.

For those who are already hanging out for more, there will be a sequel!

It premieres in Sweden on 13 September.