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# fear and terror / diet / Austria / leave potatoes eat meat / fitness / culinary / wilderness / shed / folk / Easter / skinning / puberty / minimalism / food / what’s for dinner / let’s be vegans / cinema exclusive / Polish premiere

horror / Austria / 2022 / 1h37m

Claustrophobic tale of hunger

The main character of “Family Dinner” is 15-year-old Simi, a girl with a weight complex. She decides to ask her aunt Claudia (her uncle’s ex-wife, a respected nutritionist and cooking expert) for help with losing weight. Just before Easter, Simi arrives at the relative’s house to beg her for guidance.
The aunt lives in the middle of nowhere with her new husband and a teenage son. The atmosphere in the house is already severely icy, and Simi’s visit makes the temperature drop a few more degrees. The teenager is determined. Initially, Claudia refuses to help, but in the end, she agrees to take Simi under her wing. She starts with a radical move: during the family dinner, she serves everyone an enticing dish but takes the plate away from Sami. The girl doesn’t protest, trusting that her aunt knows what’s best for her. She quickly realizes that her aunt’s family is very screwy. And eating is almost like a religious ritual for them.

“Family Dinner” is one of the best film debuts in the world of horror movies in recent years. Austrian director Peter Hengl made a movie that is intense and minimalist at the same time, something between folk horror and a painful satire showing our obsession with food. “Family Dinner” causes anxiety and tension, but it does so unobtrusively: so well that it’s difficult to determine when the real horror begins. Aunt Claudia manipulates Simi masterfully, using the girl’s desire to lose weight, but not once giving the impression that she’s out of her head: rational and elegant, she drives the girl into other complexes with a smile on her face. But the atmosphere thickens with each scene, and the viewer has butterflies in their stomach until the very finale, thanks to subtle allusions and increasingly strong friction between the characters.

But “Family Dinner” isn’t just a horror movie. It’s also a story about adolescence, including sexual adolescence. Simi wants to be thinner because she wants to be appealing to men. At night, when the starved girl finally manages to fall asleep, she dreams of her aunt’s husband, who harasses her near an empty fridge, convincing her that she is beautiful. The director manages to keep the viewer in suspense throughout the film, making us wonder until the very end whether Claudia is unstable or whether Simi is losing contact with reality due to hunger. The final answer to this question is given on a plate.

directed by: Peter Hengl
screenplay: Peter Hengl
starring: Nina Katlein, Pia Hierzegger, Michael Pink, Alexander Sladek
cinematography: Gabriel Krajanek
editing: Sebastian Schreiner
music: Peter Kutin
language: German
subtitles: Polish

WORLD PREMIERE: Tribeca Film Festival 2022
Age restriction: 16+