Nothing Bad Can Happen

Based on a real-life case, this 2013 debut feature by German writer-director Katrin Gebbe tells the story of a naive young Christian fundamentalist who gets invited into the home of an atheistic sadist and his victimized family. The young man, hoping to divert the sadist’s attention from his teenage stepdaughter, submits to increasingly horrific forms of abuse; the film culminates with a protracted torture scene that might test the endurance even of hardened spectators. Gebbe elicits strong performances from her actors (most of whom had limited screen experience before making this) and succeeds in inspiring a certain sick fascination with the material, yet the film’s oppressive unpleasantness yields no new insights into psychology or religious faith. In German with subtitles.