96 minutes, Austria, 2011, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema

In a country scarred by the Natascha Kampusch and Josef Fritzl cases, it was always likely an Austrian filmmaker would investigate the troubling issue of domestic imprisonment. This striking first feature by Markus Schleinzer thankfully avoids the obvious pitfalls involved: its portrait of an unremarkable office worker with an appalling secret in his suburban cellar generates stomach-knotting tension but never exploits the sufferings of the captive.

Schleinzer is also a leading casting director who has worked with fellow Austrian filmmakers Michael Haneke and Jessica Hausner. He adopts their controlled visual style here by showing us just enough to outline the pattern of incarceration, control and abuse by which Michael Fuith’s chillingly mundane protagonist keeps a frightened young boy (David Rauchenberger, heartrending) in his thrall. Socially maladroit yet still a functioning adult, Fuith’s calculating paedophile attracts worryingly little attention, making this a deeply unsettling viewing experience which ponders whether society can ever sustain the sort of vigilance necessary to guard against such ordinary monsters. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)


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