Cut Off Ending Explained & Plot Analysis

Unraveling the plot of the thriller Cut Off (2018): plot summary, ending, description, meaning, similar films.

Country: Germany

Genre: detective, thriller, crime

Year of production: 2018

Director: Christian Alvart

Actors: Moritz Bleibtreu, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Lars Eidinger

The plot of the film Cut Off (German: Abgeschnitten) is somewhat reminiscent of the cult film “The Silence of the Lambs” and other similar films. This is a very dark, scary, sometimes disgusting movie that is difficult to watch. However, it raises several important topics and makes you think seriously about many things.

Plot of the film Cut Off

What is the movie about? Here is a brief description of the contents of the picture. One day, the mutilated body of a young woman appears on the table of forensic scientist Paul Herzfeld. In her head, he discovers a capsule with a note inside.

Moritz Bleibtreu of the film Cut Off
Moritz Bleibtreu stars as Paul Herzfeld. Still from the film Cut Off

Internally growing colder, Paul reads the familiar numbers: on the paper is written the phone number of his 17-year-old daughter Hannah, whom he sees extremely rarely after divorcing his wife. He dials the number and a mysterious voice tells him that Hannah has been kidnapped, and a man named Eric will soon provide him with additional information. If Paul does not want to endanger his daughter’s life, then he should not report to the police.

Next, events move to the island of Helgoland. An attractive young woman stands next to the mutilated corpse. This is the comic book artist, Linda. The girl is going through difficult times – she is being stalked by her ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, the phone rings in the dead man’s jacket pocket. Linda decides to answer and talks with Paul, who dialed this number on a tip from a maniac.

The main character asks Linda to help him find his old friend Ender Muller, the caretaker of the island clinic, and with his help deliver the corpse to the autopsy room. Paul himself, in the company of a young trainee Ingolf von Appen, sets off towards Cuxhaven.

Soon Paul contacts Linda again and asks her to open the body. The girl is a vegetarian and the sight of blood scares her. However, the man convinces her to help and she eventually discovers a new capsule in the corpse. Inside is a photograph of Judge Theven. Paul has difficult memories associated with her. Several years ago he was friends with a man named Jens Marinek, who was also his colleague. He had a minor daughter who was once kidnapped by a maniac named Jan Erik Sadler. Unable to withstand the abuse, the raped girl took her own life.

Marinek tried to convince his friend to write a lie in the conclusion – this would help achieve a harsh sentence for the criminal. However, Paul refused and preferred to act according to the letter of the law. As a result, Judge Theven gave Sadler a very lenient sentence…

Jasna Fritzi Bauer of the film Cut Off
Jasna Fritzi Bauer played the role of Linda. Still from the film Cut Off

While searching for Hanna, Herzfeld and Ingolf receive several more clues and eventually meet Marinek. He swallows the capsule and shoots himself in the head – this is how Paul receives a new clue. She takes them to entrepreneur Philip Schwintowski.

It soon becomes clear that Sadler at one time kidnapped several girls, including Schwintowski’s daughter Rebecca. After being raped and abused, she, like Marinek’s daughter, Lili, committed suicide. After the maniac received a lenient sentence, Shvintowski and Marinek decided to act at their own discretion. They, in turn, kidnapped the released Sadler and, after much torture, forced him to play by their own rules.

According to their interpretation, Herzfeld, being part of the legal system, bears partial responsibility for the death of their daughters. Therefore, to take revenge on him, they decided to kidnap Hannah.

After long adventures, the main character receives a video message from Shvintowski. “Everyone deserves a chance, right?” – the criminal says. “You are a good person, Paul, and we left you a chance to find Hannah. She’s with Sadler. If you want to find her, follow the white light of Alcatraz.”

Soon information comes about the corpse that Linda found. The body belongs to Schwintowski… Anyone else’s head would be spinning, but Paul puts forward his own version of everything that happened. In his opinion, one day Schwintowski and Marinek decided that they no longer needed Sadler. They planned to kill him and place a capsule with another clue inside his body, but something went wrong… The maniac turned out to be surprisingly tenacious – he killed Shvintovsky and did what they wanted to do with him.

After a long search, Paul eventually finds his daughter, frees her and… encounters a living nightmare – Jan Erik Sadler. However, the maniac manages to escape…

Cut Off Ending explained

Explanation of the ending of the picture. At the end of the film, Paul thanks Linda for her assistance. The girl is shocked by the adventure she experienced and promises the forensic expert that she will make him one of the heroes of her next comic book, and “he won’t get off easy.” They say a warm goodbye and Linda leaves.

A little later, Paul says goodbye to Ingolf, who reports that they are now looking for Sadler all over the island and he probably won’t go far. The young man is about to leave the island on his own, but a helicopter sent from the mainland is already waiting for Paul.

Hertzfeld and Hannah board a helicopter and fly off the island. However, when the helicopter is over the ocean, Paul is suddenly attacked by Sadler, who has sneaked into the cabin. After a short fight, the main character pushes the maniac out of the helicopter and he dies.

The meaning of the ending of the film “Cut Off” is quite simple: evil is punished, and the main character, after all the adventures, probably understood a lot – both about the system in which he works, and about himself.

The meaning of the film Cut Off

German cinema is distinguished by a rather harsh style and a very thick, dense atmosphere. Of course, this does not apply to all films – however, if the Germans decide to make thrillers, they produce gloomy and dark films. According to many viewers who analyzed the film “Call a Dead Man,” it turned out exactly like this.

The painting is made in dark colors – the visual contains blue, black and gray shades. When combined with an uncomfortable winter atmosphere, this visual design helps create a depressing effect. The tension increases as the main character discovers another clue leading to the solution to his daughter’s whereabouts. As we get closer to the end, it becomes clear that the forensic expert has very little time left to prevent something terrible. Will he have time, will he be able to?..

Lars Eidinger of the film Cut Off
Lars Eidinger as Jan Erik Salder. Still from the film Cut Off

“Dead Ringer” is an adaptation of the novel by Michael Tsokos and Sebastian Fitzek. The book is called “Cut Off.” By the way, the original title of the film sounds the same, and it makes much more sense than as a result of another creative impulse of domestic localizers. After all, the picture is largely “made” by the feeling of isolation from the world and the thick, disturbing atmosphere.

This film, like the original book, is a multi-genre work. A skillful combination of thriller and crime detective elements allows you to immerse yourself in the story and follow the events with interest. Moreover, not only the plot, but also the actions of the characters are of interest. The picture we see is terrifying. And the understanding that behind all this bloody nightmare there are desperate, hopeless people who have nothing to lose and who only have grief, anger and a desire for revenge, makes you seriously think about many things. For example, about how far a person can go in his search for justice.

Szwintowski and Marinek are, of course, tragic characters. However, their desire to try on the role of God led to the fact that they stood on a par with the maniac Sadler. Moreover, they did not hesitate to use him (the murderer and rapist of their daughters) for their own purposes. Therefore, after everything that happened, there is no doubt about who is the bigger monster – the mentally ill half-animal, or these two.

The catalyst for everything that happened was forensic scientist Paul Herzfeld. A few years ago, a tormented girl came across his desk. Sadler abused her for several days, after which she could not stand it and took her own life. Despite Marinek’s fervent request, Herzfeld drowned out the voice of his conscience and acted according to the law – in conclusion, he wrote that the cause of the girl’s death was suicide. As a result, Sadler was imprisoned for only 3.5 years, and the forensic expert himself acquired an enemy who wished him to experience the same thing as him…

Fakhri Yardim of the film Cut Off
Fahri Yardim as Ender, Jasna Fritzi Bauer as Linda. Still from the film Cut Off

Thus began a dangerous and bloody game, during which the hero managed to understand a simple truth: sometimes it is worth giving up the letter of the law and acting as your heart tells you.

You might think that the essence of the film is only to criticize the imperfect justice system, and government mechanisms that “make the criminal a victim, and the victim a criminal.” However, the picture also has a hidden meaning.

The fact is that over the last decade, certain representatives of conventionally “left” ideas have periodically launched an attack on traditional ideas about good and evil. In particular, we are talking about the issue of pedophilia.

In the Western media space, certain “experts” appear every now and then, declaring that pedophiles are simply “special” people. They just like (in every sense of the word) children. All this is presented as a specific personality trait, and “experts” loudly declare: “they are innocent” for having it. That is, they seem to have nothing to answer to the law for. Europeans joke sadly about this: if a zombie apocalypse happens tomorrow, there will definitely be devil’s advocates defending the rights of zombies…

Maybe one day this will happen, but one thing can be said with confidence: everything depends only on ourselves and on each person individually. The creators of this film, for example, expressed their attitude towards the problem of pedophilia clearly and harshly. And the answer to the question of what should be the attitude in society towards all sorts of perverts is given here unambiguously. So perhaps the defenders of “zombie rights” have no chance of being heard yet.

main character of the film Cut Off
Still from the film Cut Off

Similar films

Here are several films similar in meaning to the film Cut Off:

  • Seven” (USA, 1995). Detective William Somerset investigates a sophisticated murder. His opponent is a serial killer who “punishes” his victims for the “sins” they have committed.
  • Zodiac” (USA, 2007). The film tells the story of the investigation into the crimes of a serial killer who calls himself the Zodiac.
  • Shutter Island” (USA, 2009). Two bailiffs are investigating the disappearance of a patient in a hospital for the criminally insane. As they work, they must face unpredictable circumstances.
  • Law Abiding Citizen (USA, 2009). The main character takes revenge on everyone involved in the death of his wife and child.
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