Creeping its way onto Netflix today is the German horror movie, The Privilege (aka Das Privileg Die Auserwählten). Directed by Felix Fuchssteiner and Katharina Schöde, the movie stars Max Schimmelpfennig and Nadeshda Brennicke, and follows the story of a young man called Finn, who uncovers something disturbing about his family.
In the movie, Finn Bergmann is a high school student who has experienced tragedy in his past. At a young age, his older sister passed away under unusual circumstances, and the nature of her sudden death has haunted him for years.
More recently he has become preoccupied with something equally as troubling. His parents are acting strange, his twin sister doesn’t seem quite herself, and most disturbing of all, the medication he takes to help with his anxiety contains a troubling ingredient – a fungus which can cause hallucinations.
Keen to learn more about the fungus, Finn approaches a woman who specialise in this field. But rather than provide a simple explanation for the fungus, she opens Finn’s mind to the possibility of something more sinister and supernatural at work.
Could an unearthly force be using the medication to gain control of Finn? And more importantly, what has this got to do with his family and their odd behaviour?
The best way to describe The Privilege is to say this film is a supernatural take on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies. It borrows heavily from past Invasion films, adding a paranormal bent to freshen up the story, but in essence this is what the film is all about.
For those who are already acquainted with Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956/1978), The Faculty (1998), Little Joe (2019), or any of films of this ilk, you will have seen this all before. That’s not to say The Privilege isn’t fine to watch, nor is it to say this film doesn’t have some good ideas, it’s simply that this movie is covering a lot of old ground and it may be a little too familiar for some audiences.
The Privilege also suffers from something that some of those other movies don’t: it moves rather slowly. It takes far too long to get to the crux of the story, and at times the journey becomes rather tedious.
Even if you are more than happy to watch a story that has been told before, it’s rather frustrating to know it has been told much better, and much quicker in the past. So, while The Privilege isn’t awful, it isn’t the best example of an Invasion story.
On a more positive note, the cast are good, the film looks decent enough, and the visual effects tick all the required boxes. It is clear The Privilege has been put together with the best intentions, and with care to the material.
Some movies are flung together, and I don’t believe this is the case with The Privilege. It feels as if the directors were trying to bring something new to the story, even if they didn’t quite pull it off.
The film also has moments that shine, including the opening sequence involving the death of Finn’s older sister; a sort-of séance-cum-exorcism that takes place midway through the movie; and the finale, which brings the sinister Invasion plot to the forefront. All of these parts demonstrate potential, it’s just a shame they are the best aspects of an otherwise mediocre film.
I can’t help but feel that had The Privilege used these stronger moments as a springboard to build from, the movie would have been better for it. I also feel that it could have leaned into the supernatural content a lot more, which may have helped it develop the story in new and exciting ways.
Ultimately, The Privilege is OK, but it is nothing special. It is watchable stuff, but not particularly memorable or imaginative.
If you’ve never watched an Invasion-style movie, there are better examples of this story, which will offer more thrills and far more suspense. My advice is to seek out one of those – especially if you’re after a truly gripping paranoid chiller.