Inspired by horrifying true events, Nothing Bad Can Happen follows Tore, a young lost soul involved with an underground Christian punk movement who falls in with a dysfunctional family who test his seemingly unwavering faith.
The young Tore seeks in Hamburg a new life among the religious group called The Jesus Freaks. When he by accident meets a family and helps them to repair their car, he believes that a heavenly wonder has helped him. He starts a friendship with the father of the family, Benno. Soon he moves in with them at their garden plot, not knowing what cruelty is there to come. True to his religious belief he stays with them although the increasing violence by Benno is torturing him. Tore is fighting the torment with his own weapons. So a dangerous struggle between libidinous actions and altruism begins. Inspired by true events.Written by
Religion, nein danke
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It's rare to find a film which manages to disturb and horrify without ever being exploitative or using cheap shock tactics like you'd see in the August Underground movies but Nothing Bad Can Happen manages to do exactly that. I came away from the film feeling drained and disturbed in a way that I haven't felt since Pascal Laugier's Martyrs which should certainly ring alarm bells if you can't handle upsetting subject matters in your films. Although Nothing Bad Can Happen is undoubtedly a superb piece of filmmaking, it's something I wouldn't recommend lightly due to explicit sequences involving abuse of all kinds and cruelty to animals.
The film follows the true events surrounding a young self-proclaimed 'Jesus freak' called Tore who happens to have some form of autism which makes him think and act very differently to others. Tore places all of his faith in Jesus Christ and is naively taken in by a truly evil family who take advantage of his absurdly good nature. It's a fascinating meditation on evil in society and the dangers of religion. Despite being a truly gruelling watch, Nothing Bad Can Happen never gratuitously relishes in the violence and is always focused on delivering a powerful message. The fact that these events are true makes the film all the more relevant and important.
First-time director Katrin Gebbe shows astonishing confidence behind the camera. Despite the ugly subject matter, the images always try to find beauty and light through the bleakness. There's a hypnotic sense of realism to the whole film which reminded me of Justin Kurzel's equally uncompromising Snowtown. The acting from the unknown cast is similarly impressive, particularly breakout star Julius Feldmeier in the lead who manages to make Tore an engaging and sympathetic main character. Sascha Alexander Gersak also feels toe-curlingly real as the malevolent patriarch determined to break Tore's Holy spirit.
You could easily mistake Nothing Bad Can Happen as being the lost film in Lars Von Trier's 'Golden Hearts Trilogy' which correspondingly follows mentally-challenged protagonists as they battle through life's brutal hardships. It's just as tough to watch as seeing Emily Watson getting stoned by feral kids or Bjork dancing through life despite desperately trying to raise enough money for her son's operation. It'll be too much for some people and it does get worse as the film progresses but the reason I watch films is to be moved and provoked by some sort of emotional response. Nothing Bad Can Happen does this in spade loads.
This is a haunting piece of work which will bury itself under your skin and stay there long after the credits roll. It's a torturous watch at times but it carries an important message which is extremely relevant to society today. The pacing is very slow at the beginning but it's also immersive and character-focused meaning that it's easy to engage with. There was not one moment where I was bored or distracted in its 110 minute running time. It's a heart-breaking watch which will shake you to your core. A stunning debut but proceed with caution.
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