23rd Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘Cut Off’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Moritz Bleibtreu, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Lars Eidinger, Fahri Yardim, Enno Hesse, Christian Kuchenbuch, Urs Jucker, Barbara Prakopenka, Stephanie Amarell, Dirk Nocker, Niels-Bruno Schmidt, Klara Höfels, Joy Maria Bai, Georg Veitl | Written and Directed by Christian Alvart

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Cut Off (Abgeschnitten) is based on a novel by Sebastian Fitzek and Michael Tsokos with a screenplay from Christian Alvart who also directs, and is a dark German thriller set in the world of forensic pathology. A coroner named Paul Herzfeld discovers, in the head of a corpse, a phone number and the name of his daughter. When he calls the number he finds that his daughter has been abducted and the man who is holding her captive will kill her if Paul doesn’t do as he wants. What follows from there is a bloody story as Paul tries to find and save his daughter, Hannah, and along the way finds Linda, a young woman who attempts to help him.

Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run) is excellent here, which isn’t a surprise as he’s a very good actor with a lot of experience under his belt, but I was just as impressed with Jasna Fritzi Bauer (Barbara), who plays Linda. She gives one hell of a performance in this film, from fearful to disgusted as she finds herself in a baffling position. Oh, and what a film Cut Off is. This, my friends, is some tense, brutal, jarring stuff, and Alvart did a pretty magnificent job with it. Now, I haven’t read the novel on which this film is based, so I can’t comment on how close or far it comes from telling that original story, but as a stand-alone movie for which I’m judging it, I thought it was a masterfully realised dark thriller with edge-of-your-seat sequences hitting you repeatedly and a thoroughly suspenseful tone throughout.

Jakub Bejnarowicz’s cinematography is something of a delight as we weave amongst the excellent locations in which the film takes part. Maurus Ronner and Christoph Schauer’s score only adds to the suspense too, making the whole experience click together seamlessly. With a strong feeling of immense dread hanging above your head, you can be sure you’ll hold your breath and grit your teeth on a number of occasions with Cut Off.

The story takes you on so many twists and turns that you never guess what’s coming, and the practical effects that are used to portray the brutality of the film are great, if at times tough to watch. I mean, this is pretty relentless stuff, and though there are a couple of moments that try to lighten the mood, it remains dark and dreary for most of its two hours. Perhaps, and I say that because of the subjective nature of the subject, a little too dark at times, not offering enough relief and weighing down heavily to the point where I was clenching my body tight on more than one occasion. It certainly won’t be for everyone, especially those on the squeamish side of the coin.

It’s an entertaining and intense film that some might find way too pitch black and harsh to enjoy, but I thought it was very good indeed. Sure, “enjoy” might not be the best word to use when dealing with the themes that this film deals with, but it was certainly a memorable and exciting ride.

With dominant performances and a story that keeps you guessing and keeps your heart pumping, this is an all-out attack of a film with a very good script to boot. I wasn’t sure what I was getting with Cut Off, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this. If you like dark and mysterious stories with their fair share of ferocious and savage moments, then check this one out when you get the chance.

***½  3.5/5

Cut Off screened on Friday August 23rd as per of 2019s Arrow Video Frightfest.

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