The Privilege follows a young man who, after a childhood trauma, begins to experience nightmares and disturbing visions as a teenager. As he tries to determine what is real and what is potentially a psychotic break, his friends and fellow students begin to die and a cult-like group appears to be assembling amidst his town.
[This movie was viewed via the Netflix at the time of this review.]
The Privilege Review
As can sometimes be the case with foreign films, some things can be lost in translation. Despite this film's somewhat complex structure at times as it weaves through its mystery, very little is lost to the North American viewer from this German-based horror film. Perhaps that stems from the simplicity of its characters and the plodding pace that allows for its key moments to stick out with clarity and impact. So is the slow burn of this supernatural mystery worth the patience?
I wasn't terribly impressed with the characters, as there didn't seem to be any progression for them beyond their own realizations as they solve the happenings of the town, or fall victim to the cultists. Despite being a movie from overseas, the high school students fall into their cookie cutter roles quite easily when compared to their North American counterparts. We have the outcast protagonist, the cool jock bully, the platonic best friend of the opposite sex, and the love interest that feels hopeless-romantically out of reach. It could just as easily fit into a coming-of-age rom-com with that list of characters.
But instead they must deal with a cult, or what our protagonist fears to be a cult. The film plods along for the first hour or so, with predictable moments of tension and continued progression of the mystery. But by the time the "is it a dark entity or in his head" schtick grows old, the movie starts to accelerate in its reveals and intensify in what those reveals bring to light. We eventually hit a moment in the film in which it is near-impossible to guess what exactly is going on, but it's something we've never seen before.
And frankly, as I've said in the past, originality will get you a long way with me. And this film is no exception. The Privilege is filled with flaws, primarily in its struggle to maintain attention as it gets through its initial slog of a somewhat predictable rhythm, but it eventually hits its stride and heads in unexpected, or at least unpredictable paths. I was impressed by the breadth of the mystery when all was said and done and appreciated the originality of the tale as a whole.
The effects certainly left something to be desired, relying heavily on some rough, but by no means terrible CG. But it also balanced that with some decent, brief body horror and relatable elements. The mixed bag of effects doesn't combine well with the pacing issues, but I can't deny my appreciation for the story as a whole. It would've been nice if it had been prepared into a more palatable meal, but the end result still felt satisfying enough.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 6/10