the idea of delinquent youths becoming guinea pigs in mind control experiments
is hardly unprecedented, but there is something decidedly unsettling about it
when done with a German accent—if you know what I mean. Instead of juvenile
hall, Sam is sentenced a well-funded private school and research facility. He
probably had a hard time fitting in, considering he groggily awakens in a
subway tunnel with a nasty case of amnesia during the opening moments of Özgür
Yildirim’s Boy 7 (trailer here), which screens
today during the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.
name is Sam, not that he knows that. However, he quickly figures out the cops
want him for murder. Retracing his step from the clues in his pocket, Sam
discovers a notebook stashed in a diner men’s room. It seems to be a journal he
kept in the apparently likely event of his complete memory loss.
some unfortunate bit of hacking, Sam was to serve a term at the institute,
where the gray military uniforms really give off bad vibes. He will be the new
Number 7, because the old Number 7 died from a stroke. It was unfortunate, but
these sorts of things seem to happen there. His hard-partying roommate Louis
(#6) knows something is wrong about the place, but he tries to live in denial.
Lara (#8) is more openly rebellious, but the punky girl initially has no
interest in Sam’s attempts to form an alliance, or anything else for that
matter. Nevertheless, they grow closer as things get weirder around them. In
fact, it is Lara that comes to the clean-slated Sam’s rescue.
Boy 7 was adapted from the Dutch YA
novel by Marco van Geffen and Philip Delmaar, as was the Dutch film version
that released a mere six months earlier. German efficiency is certainly
impressive, but in this case Yildirim marries it up with an ultra-slick
Twyker-esque style. Although it is doomed to be compared to the Divergent and Maze Runner franchises, Boy 7
is much more closely akin Baran bo Odar’s Who Am I—No System is Safe, for reasons beyond language.
actor David Kross is best known for his work in The Reader, but in this case, try not to hold it against him. He
has clearly grown in his craft. While he is still a convincing nebbish
outsider, he also conveys some grit and a bit of a dark side as Sam. As Lara,
Emilia Schüle has a weird, hard to define screen presence, but it sort of works
in context. Unfortunately, the villains are not nearly as distinctive as they
ought to be.
Nevertheless, Yildirim keeps it all hurtling
along at full throttle, while cinematographer Matthias Bolliger gives it an
eerie nocturnal noir glow. It is a quality production that far surpasses the
low expectations its young adult credentials would suggest. Recommended for
paranoid youths, the German Boy 7 screens
today (7/29), as part of this year’s Fantasia.
Labels: Fantasia '15, German Cinema, Mind control