Shotgunning contemporary horror and throwback conspiracy thriller tropes together, Germany’s The Privilege (2022) doesn’t make a ton of sense but projects enough creepy-silly eyeball kicks to serve as a fun diversion. Finn Bergmann (Max Schimmelpfennig) is an awkward but attractive high-schooler haunted by the long-ago death of his older sister. Finn’s health-obsessed parents have him seeing a psychotherapist regularly, but the regimen of tests and pills he’s subjected to is definitely on the abnormal side. So when he starts hallucinating mysterious goings-on in his own house, he sets out to find the truth with his quirky friend Lena (Lea van Acken) and his crush Samira (Tijan Marei), uncovering the shocking truth behind the façade of his perfect life.
The Privilege is attractively filmed with effective special effects, and Schimmelpfennig, van Acken, and Marei make for an appealing teen trio. Ultimately, though, there’s not much there there, as the saying goes. It’s not quite scary or shocking enough to work as horror, nor is it clever and topical enough in its commentary to work as a conspiracy thriller. The resulting hybrid, which reminded me weirdly of the seventies skiffy thriller Coma, occasionally catches the eye but doesn’t pay off.