Berlin Syndrome [2017] ★★★

 “Berlin Syndrome” is terrifying because it feels real. I can’t remember the last time I liked a character in a horror movie from the get-go and then found myself rooting for her to survive. So props to director Cate Shortland and her lead actress Teresa Palmer for turning the familiar into something bracingly fresh. I hadn’t seen the trailer or read a single word about the movie when I saw it playing this week. That clean slate made the movie’s unfolding surprises especially potent. Teresa Palmer plays an Australian photographer on holiday in Berlin. One day, she meets Andi, a local school teacher, and they have sex. That one-night stand takes a nasty (no pun intended) turn when she finds herself unable to leave his apartment the next day. You may be reminded of other creepy movies like “Misery” and “3096” days, but “Berlin Syndrome” is neither a rehash nor an insult. It’s a seamless blend of horror and drama that earns its scares genuinely and honestly. And if it goes on a bit too long, I’m still willing to forgive that because the movie kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. That, and a great performance by Teresa Palmer make it a must-see for fans of the genre.

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