The most effective horror comes from the unknown. In Visar Morina’s dramatic thriller, Xhafer is a Serbian pharmaceutical engineer who now lives in Germany with his wife and three children. One day, he finds a rat hanging from his front gate. The next day, his company emails are mysteriously missing. As Xhafer seeks answers to his wife’s and co-workers’ increasing consternation, a finely drawn portrait of alienation, belonging, and the safety in knowing one’s place emerges.

Exile continually brings into question what Xhafer – and by extension the viewers – see and hear. Xhafer, played with sensitivity and outrage by Mišel Matičević, is convinced that his position as an immigrant – someone who always pronounces his name twice for visiting delegates – is driving the increasingly bizarre happenings. His immediate jump to this conclusion is dismissed by those close to him, but Matičević embodies the deeply rooted insecurities that come from not knowing where you can exist. It is a forceful performance that sells the film’s more disjointed moments in the third act.

Morina establishes an uneasy atmosphere from the opening scene and ratchets this tone quickly to dread, and then outright terror, through carefully-framed shots and a pounding score. Any peace can be shattered in an instant, yet each new revelation never loses its sickening impact – especially if Xhafer’s finding is not seen by the audience. Additionally, while the question of whether Xhafer’s victimisation is real or imagined is resolved as the plot comes together, it does not impact the film’s dramatic structure.

Exile may not satisfactorily answer the questions each horrible surprise raises, but its impeccable pacing and agonising tension compel throughout its two hours. This portrait of a man questioning his place in the world while those around him question his place in their lives is a self-sustaining spiral of dysfunction.



CAST: Mišel Matičević, Sandra Hüller, Rainer Bock, Thomas Mraz

DIRECTOR: Visar Morina

WRITER: Visar Morina

SYNOPSIS: A Serbian pharmaceutical engineer thinks he is being bullied at work and sets out to find who is behind it.