The Curator of Schlock #385 by Jeff Shuster

Berlin Syndrome

Don’t go to Germany.

There I was, in the middle of a crowd of malcontents gussied up in moose heads and moose leggings. The sound of a horn silenced the raucous crowd. Eight bare chested men emerged wearing executioner hoods carrying a huge aluminum dinner platter. A medley of carrots and potatoes surrounded the roasted carcass of what used to be a kangaroo.

My thoughts turned to Edwige, my beloved kangaroo companion of the past year. The crowd roared applause at the site of the forbidden delicacy in front of them. My screams got cut short as someone behind me clonked me on the back of the head. All went dark. — To be continued.

I’m done with Arrow Home Video for a while. They gave me a great 2021, but now I must go out into the wild for schlock. This week’s movie is 2017’s Berlin Syndrome from director Cate Shortland. At first, I thought this might be another in the line of Harry Palmer movies. Maybe they got Michael Caine to reprise the role of the working class spy one last time.

Sadly, this is not that movie. It does take place in Berlin much like Funeral in Berlin, but the similarities stop there.

Berlin Syndrome stars Teresa Palmer as Clare Havel, a young Australian woman traveling by herself throughout Europe. Berlin is her latest destination and Teresa is taken in by the sites and sounds of this famous city. Her first night there, she attends a drinking party on a rooftop near a hostel she’s staying at. The next day she explores the city and runs into a handsome young gentleman named Andi (Max Riemelt). He offers her a strawberry from his father’s garden and the two of them hit it off and spend the night together.

Teresa wakes up in an empty apartment. Max has gone off to teach high school English. Teresa goes to leave, but can’t as she is locked inside. That would be the first red flag for me. After all, apartments are supposed to be locked from the inside, but maybe Germans have a different way of doing things. When Max returns, she lightly confronts him about being locked inside the apartment for the day. He jokingly says something like, “At least I didn’t tie you to the bed.”

They go out for dinner and dancing. Teresa spends the night again only to find herself locked in the next day. She also can’t find her mother’s wedding ring that was attached to a chain around her neck. Max promised to leave a key for her, but there is no key, no way out. She tries breaking the windows, but they’re reinforced glass. The apartment is the only inhabited place in the empty building so crying out for help does no good. Teresa is Andi’s prisoner.

For the next few days, he ties her to the bed before heading to work. Teresa plays along until Andi believes she’ll behave while he’s away. Teresa finds a screwdriver that she uses to stab Andi’s hand to a table in a futile effort to get away. While exploring the apartment, she manages to break into a locked room where she finds a photo album filled with pictures of the last woman Andi imprisoned in his apartment.

Berlin Syndrome belongs to the film genre as Hostel and Turistas, movies that warn moviegoers of seeing the world and broadening their horizons. Just stay home, don’t go outside, and binge watch shows on the streaming channel of your choice. It’s the only way to live.

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.