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KINO favorites: Top 10 German thrillers

Scott Roxborough
October 7, 2016

From 1930s serial killers to Cold War conspiracy theorists; from botched bank robberies to murder most foul, DW's cinema team picks their favorite German thrillers of all time.

Film Antikörper
Image: picture alliance/kpa

Crime, violence and fear, not to mention suspense, are at the core of any good thriller. But the best of the genre go deeper, revealing something rotten in society at large.

That's the case with our top 10 list: these are edge-of-your-seat dramas that reflect the ugliest aspects of German history.

A child-killing murderer in 1930s Berlin stands in for the massacre of innocents to come under the Nazi regime. A 1980s computer hacker is overwhelmed by the Cold War paranoia infecting the divided nation. The beast hiding beneath the civilized surface of modern-day Germany is unleashed by a psychological experiment gone wrong.

The plots are familiar: there's the bank heist gone bad, the brilliant serial killer taunting the police; the blackmailer whose victim turns the table. But working within those genre conventions has freed the directors on our list to experiment with visual style, editing and sound design. The full emotional toolbox of modern cinema is on brilliant display.

As is the acting of our films' leads. The cast on our list reads like a "Who's Who" of great German talent of the past 70 years: Peter Lorre, Götz George, Gert Fröbe, André Hennicke, Wotan Wilke Möhring: men who are at their best playing bad.

It's a male-heavy genre but there are a few standout performances from actresses on our list of thrillers, including Gudrun Landgrebe, Katrin Sass and Renée Soutendijk. 

So take a look and tell us what you think. Did your favorites make the cut? Were there any thrillers we unfairly snubbed? Let us know by writing at kino@dw.com. 

And if you're an adrenaline junkie, check out the films themselves. Be ready for a rush. Just don't expect many happy endings.