Review: NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN (2014) disturbing film from first time German director is based on actual events

June 25, 2014


NOTHING BAD CAN HAPPEN (2014) Julius Feldmeier, Sascha Alexander Gersak, Annika Kuhl, Swantje Kohlhof, Til Niklas Theinert. Directed by Katrin Gebbe (German with English Subtitles)

Once in a while there comes a movie that is so disturbing that it's hard for me to make it through the entire film, the fact that it's based on actual events is even more horrifying. This is not a horror film, there are no serial killers or gory scenes, but German writer-director Katrin Gebbe's debut film is much more frightening as it displays subtle evil personified by a series of events that are as shocking as they are saddening.

The movie centers around Tore (Julius Feldmeier), a teenager who resembles a European version of Napoleon Dynamite minus the glasses. He lives in a house with a bunch of Christian youth members called "Jesus Freaks" an actual Christian evangelic sect based out of Hamburg, Germany.

When Tore and his friend pull into a highway rest stop they encounter Benno (Sascha Alexander Gersak) and his family who are stranded and unable to get the car started. They go over to Benno and ask if he needs anything, he replies "jumper cables" but the best the teens can do is offer a prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit, and after forming a prayer circle at the hood of the car, Benno cranks it and it starts up. Tore tells Benno about the Jesus Freaks and invites him to stop by some time and he does.

While the Jesus Freaks are enjoying a Christian punk rock band performing in their home, Tore catches a glimpse of Benno in the room. He goes out on the dance floor and joins the mosh pit only to collapse with an epileptic seizure. Benno picks up and sets Tore in his car and begins to drive him to the hospital. Tore wakes up, he's ok, and so Benno invites him over the house where he's introduced to the family. Benno invites Tore to move in with them, he accepts, so they set up a tent in the backyard for Tore to call home. The accommodations are less than ideal but Tore would rather stay in the tent than back at the Jesus Freak house where he busted his roomie engaging in premarital sex, a big no no in the eyes of the Lord.

Things go from bad to worse as Benno continuously mocks Tore's faith and when Tore and Sanny (Swantje Kohlhof), Benno's stepdaughter, become friends he sees Tore as competition which hints of sexual abuse in the family.

There are so many atrocities carried out against Tore that include physical and sexual abuse, there is even a scene that makes Joan Crawford look like mother of the year as Benno's wife Astrid (Annika Kuhl) force feeds Tore spoiled and maggot infested chicken straight out of the trash can. I will point out that Tore did try to return back to the Jesus Freaks in the middle of all this but the group moved away and so he found himself homeless.

The film is grueling to watch and very frustrating to see this individual persecuted especially since he refuses to fight back, instead choosing to put his fate in the hands of Jesus.

Katrin Gebbe is a talented director although I'm not sure what statement she was trying to make with this film. You can break it down and come up with different conclusions and there were some images that I felt in a sense compared Tore's character to Jesus. One thing I am sure of, it's a movie that you will not soon forget.

(3 stars)

Opens Friday June 27 at Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane (Austin), Alamo Drafthouse Vintage Park (Houston), Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes (San Antonio)