DVD Review: Nothing Bad Can Happen

STUDIO: Drafthouse/Cinedigm | DIRECTOR: Katrin Gebbe | CAST: Julius Feldmeier, Sascha Alexander Gersak, Annika Kuhl, Swantje Kohlhof, Til-Niklas Theinert
DVD & BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE: 10/14/2014 | PRICE: DVD $24.99, Blu-ray $29.93
BONUSES: featurette, interview with director, booklet, digital download
SPECS: NR | 110 min. | Foreign language thriller | 1.85:1 widescreen | stereo | German with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video | Overall

Leave it to the Germans to coldly and calmly display mankind’s cruelty within the framework of organized civilization. Katrin Gebbe’s 2013 Nothing Bad Can Happen plays like an indie Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon) film, pushing its characters to their human limits as it strips their universe of all civilized checks and balances.

Tore (Julius Feldmeier) is a naïve but likeable “Jesus Freak” who’s straight­edge, punk rock lifestyle leads him to helping out a family stranded on the road with a dead car battery, a random act of kindness that he will pay for, dearly. Part of the joy (if you can call it that) in watching a film like this is letting the bizarre plot twist further and further into your psyche, an effect that only works if you go into the film knowing nothing­ so let’s avoid spoiling the plot, and focus, instead, on how well it hits its mark.

Nothing Bad Can Happen movie scene

Julius Feldmeier in Nothing Bad Can Happen

The answer is “quite well,” as innocent and well­-meaning Tore is slowly sucked into a situation no sane person would ever allow to happen. But Tore’s zealous Christianity allows us to justify this discrepancy, as he sees his situation as a test of faith and an opportunity to finally do some meaningful soul saving.

The shaky, hand­held cinematography doesn’t give you a moment’s rest, but other than “tense,” the film’s tone remains quite neutral, refraining from any editorializing, despite the horrific actions taking place. Rather than criticize religion, the film just uses it as a convenient narrative element in which to spin this twisted tale.

If there’s any social commentary at all, it might be that young people are the innocent heroes we should embrace, while adults­ including parents­ are just sad, twisted, messed­-up creatures who’s self­-centered needs overshadow any possible love they might have towards their children­. But even that is over-thinking the subject. Nothing Bad Can Happen is just entertainment, but one that spins its tale so convincingly, by the end you might be feeling a bit paranoid about those closest to you.

Nothing Bad Can Happen is difficult to categorize­. It’s been considered a horror film, a label that is only true the way Rosemary’s Baby is horror­ not with gore and guts, but with the genuine tension residing inside human psychology. Both films feature otherwise ­innocent central characters who find themselves entrapped by those they trust the most, despite having no physical barriers preventing their escape. They’re slaves only in their minds, which turns out to be much worse than any jail cell one could build. While Rosemary’s Baby is peppered with humor, Nothing Bad Can Happen is serious throughout, providing only occasional moments of peace and hope you already know will be soon shattered. It’s an intense, but worthwhile, ride.

 

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About Memo

Memo Salazar attempts many things and accomplishes few. His big three are making films, music, and comics, but he'll throw photography, graphic design and film criticism into the ring for good measure. He'll even make you a hand-painted t-shirt if you ask nicely. You can track his activity here when there's nothing else to do at work.