A close remake of Alberto Rodriguez’ Spanish policier La Isla Minima/Marshland (2014), this effectively transposes a story that was set in Spain just after the fall of Franco to a patch of the former East Germany just after reunification.
Two young sisters are missing, and straight arrow Hamburg cop Patrick Stein (Trystan Putter) is assigned the case as punishment for busting his boss’ brother on a cocaine charge. He has to team up with Markus Bach (Felix Kramer), a bearlike but ailing ex-Stasi strong-arm man who can’t break the habit of bugging phones and battering witnesses. Soon, the missing persons case becomes a murder case … and the cop team make connections with other young girls who aren’t around any more, which the local police shrug off as routine since what young woman would want to stay in this economically distressed, crumbling backwater when the bright lights of newly-free Berlin beckon.
It perhaps repeats a few beats too often – Patrick telephoning his pregnant wife, Bach getting gloomily drunk and keeping quiet about how sick he is – and well-connected serial killers preying on girls nobody misses aren’t exactly short on the ground. Director Christian Alvart, who also co-wrote with Siegfried Kammi, is expert in this field – he made Anitbodies and Cut Off – and puts the pieces together surely, with a nice sense of period and place. If the frozen wastes around an East German sewage works aren’t quite as striking as the marshlands of the Spanish film, Alvart compensates by using some of Rodriguez’ cool overhead shots that place cars and people in gridlike stretches of country.