FREE COUNTRY is a German serial killer thriller. If the story sounds familiar, it’s probably because this is a remake of the Spanish movie Marshland. This version is exactly as dark and brutal as the original. Read our full Free Country review here!

FREE COUNTRY is a German movie (org. title Freies Land). The story plays out in 1992 in former East Germany, so we’re just a few years after the Berlin Wall came down.

The movie is a remake of the Spanish movie Marshland which took place in Spain shortly after the end of the Franco dictatorship. Both versions make perfect use of the strange aftermath of their situations where the political (and personal) divide is rather extreme. People just do not trust strangers!

Continue reading our Free Country movie review below. Screened at Fantasia 2020.

A remake or an adaption?

I really don’t want to bash Free Country since I do think it’s a very good movie. However, there is nothing (except for one tiny scene) new in this German adaption. It is literally a scene-by-scene remake and as such, it’s more of a translation of the original script. And the mention of Stasi instead of Franco. That’s about it!

Had I not just rewatched the original, I probably wouldn’t have noticed all the similarities. And I definitely see the pure brilliance of moving the story to former East Germany shortly after the Berlin Wall came down. It makes perfect sense and ensures that the story will reach a new audience. More power to the story!

To me, this always seems like it must be very unfulfilling. I’ve only watched Marshland twice, but the last time I watched it was a few weeks prior to watching Free Country which is why I know for a fact that the two movies are virtually identical. However, the movie is still good and I like this version as much as the first.

Free Country – Fantasia Review

The main cast of Free Country

The two main characters are played by actors you might recognize from two German Netflix series. Trystan Pütter plays Patrick Stein, the “by-the-book” cop who won’t help cover up crimes committed by other boys in blue (or whatever color they wore in 1990’s Germany).

In terms of Netflix series, Trystan Pütter was on the Netflix series Perfume, which was a really good German Netflix series. In fact, it’s one of those series that we really hope will get a season 2.

You might like: Our season 1 review of the German Netflix series Perfume here >

The most famous German Netflix series is probably Dark and Felix Kramer was part of that series. In Free Country, Felix Kramer plays Markus Bach who is the cop who gets things done. He does nothing by-the-book but he does get results.

Compared to the original Spanish movie, these two characters have been perfectly adapted to the 1990s Germany. Actually, they have been changed minimally, but they didn’t need to be either.

Watch Free Country at Fantasia 2020

Christian Alvart directed and co-wrote Free Country with Siegfried Kamml as the other co-writer. Of course, the script was based on the Marshland screenplay (org. title La isla mínima) by Alberto Rodríguez and Rafael Cobos.

If this was the only Christian Alvart movie, I had ever watched, I would have no idea of his style since Free Country is so similar to Marshland.

However, this is far from the first movie by the German director. He directed the horror-mystery Case 39 starring Renée Zellweger in 2009. Also in 2009, he directed the sci-fi horror mystery Pandorum which I really liked. Do check that one out!

As a stand-alone movie, Free Country is definitely worth watching. Just be aware that if you’ve watched (and remember) the original, this one is very similar. But hey, that just means that it’s actually as good as the original.

Free Country (org. title Freies Land) is being screened at Fantasia 2020.

Details

Director: Christian Alvart
Writers: Siegfried Kamml, Christian Alvart
Stars: Trystan Pütter, Felix Kramer, Nora von Waldstätten, Ludwig Simon, Nurit Hirschfeld

Plot

Löwitz, Germany, 1992. Just two years after the reunification of Germany, this remote area by the Szczecin Lagoon and the Polish border is now home to the brutal homicides of a pair of teenage sisters. Placed in charge of the investigation are two out-of-town detectives, Patrick Stein (Trystan Pütter) and Markus Bach (an unforgettable Felix Kramer), teamed up by government officials eager for a quick arrest to prove the new Germany can carry out swift justice. Berlin detective Stein is more refined than former Stasi detective Bach, but the two soon begin to uncover the dark secrets of a lawless backwoods area where a serial killer can run rampant for years before anyone notices…

Nadja
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