A young couple, Lena (Emma Watson) and Daniel (Daniel Bruhl), are enjoying each other’s company in Chile when shit hits the fan. She’s just a flight attendant but he’s a journalist who’s become politically involved, so when the country undergoes a military coup in 1973, he’s fingered in a lineup and disappeared by Pinochet’s secret police.
He winds up at Colonia Dignidad, on the face just another weird cult run by a crazy preacher named Paul Schäfer but, in fact, it also doubles as a torture prison. Lena decides joining the cult is her best bet to save Daniel, so in she goes, putting herself at the mercy of a nutbar pedophile cult leader and his woman-beating cronies. This is the kind of movie into which you can never lose yourself entirely because you keep pulling yourself out of it to yell at the protagonists. You know in a horror movie the whole theatre is practically yelling “Don’t go in there” but of course she goes in there, even though we all knew better? And she gets diced into a million bite-sized pieces? Well this is one of those movies, except it isn’t a horror, and there’s no excuse for doing what it does. Bad writing, I suspect, and a movie that doesn’t really know what it wants to be when it grows up. With two idiot protagonists who keep making the dumbest decisions ever, you won’t care whether they live or die. And for a film that’s trying to shed some light on a pretty gruesome chapter in Chilean history, it’s also succumbing to the misplaced love story temptation. Because nothing overcomes a cruel dictator like True Love between nitwits.