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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Review: Cut Off (Abgeschnitten)

Director: Christian Alvarat
Screenplay: Christian Alvarat
Year: 2020

Paul is a successful forensic pathologist whose life takes an unexpected turn when he finds inside a victim a capsule that contains a message. The message is clearly directed to him, as it contains his daughter’s name and phone number, Knowing that his daughter is in danger, Paul starts looking for clues that put him closer to find her, which takes him into a dangerous spiral of events that revolve around a psychopath serial killer. 

The first thing that caught my attention about “Cut Off” was nothing about its plot or production, but rather its runtime of around 130 minutes. Slightly intimidated by its long runtime, I decided to still give it a chance, and for those who have the same worry as I did, I cannot say that it gets boring. The way in which the plot is constructed and how clues are slowly revealed that push the story towards new turns makes it a captivating and entertaining movie.

The whole plot of "Cut Off" circles around a forensic pathologist, which offers many opportunities for presenting autopsies that are greatly made the most of. The gore in these scenes is uncomfortably realistic and is not shy about showing all that is needed and more. The counterpart of the story is a psychopath serial killer, which also provides several opportunities for witnessing what he is capable of doing, giving way to some extremely uncomfortable scenes.

The script of the also director Christian Alvarat (“Case 39”) based on the novel Abgeschnitten from Sebastian Fitzek and Michael Tsokos, which is also the original title of the movie, pulls the viewer into the plot. Besides being well constructed, the script is full of twists, half of the unexpected, and the other half you can see coming from miles away, but all of them work in favor of revealing only the needed information and keeping the mystery. This gradual reveal and the nature of the events that take place are perfectly blended so that the viewer is constantly intrigued and trying to figure out what is going on. The great work of the cast, starring Moritz Bleibtreu (“Run Lola Run”), Jasna Fritzi Bauer (“Dogs of Berlin”), and Lars Eidinger (“Home for the Weekend”), can’t be left unmentioned, which is also key in making the reveals and mystery work. 

The story in Alvarat’s screenplay is what makes this movie compelling, but at the same time, it is where it has its problems. As expected from its long runtime, the movie has several unnecessary parts, which seem like they will be important in the plot, but that are never picked back up. These parts could have been shortened or taken out completely without affecting the rest of the plot. Similarly, plenty of tension is built up around the intentions of certain characters, which later ends up not being used besides as a distraction for the viewer. 

“Cut Off” is a compelling crime thriller where every clue revealed pulls the viewer deeper into the plot and that offers a never-ending flow of twits in its story. Its long runtime and some issues in the development of the story and characters play against it, but it counterweights those issues with the quality of its plot and its development. The level of detail in the various autopsies shown can upset even those with strong stomachs.

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