Shortly before World War I, strange accidents begin occurring in a town somewhere in northern Germany, and the residents are at a loss to explain them. Who strung a wire across the road causing the local doctor to fall from his horse? Who bound and beat up the baron’s son? Who practically blinded someone’s child? Questions abound and neither the villagers nor the Protestant pastor have any answers. The people here live hand-to-mouth, the majority in the service of the manor, and all of them lead orderly lives – at least that’s what they believe. The pastor carefully sees to the raising of his seven children: his authoritarian system of praise and punishment is firmly grounded in logic, and he treats his parishioners with equal rigor. On the outside, the other families seem just as well ordered, and yet these strange incidents stir the feeling that they are manifestations of envy, revenge, or even some incomprehensible effort to punish someone. Michael Haneke is a master at creating a near horror-like atmosphere of anxiety, and although this time around he doesn’t make the viewer a direct witness to violence and cruelty, his near-perfect black-and-white film evokes claustrophobic feelings of uneasiness and indeterminate fear.