Tired of feeling down about her weight, plus-sized 15-year-old Simi heads to her aunt Claudia’s house for Easter weekend. Claudia is a popular nutritionist who’s written best-selling health books, so for Simi, spending a few days together could help change her diet and inspire weight loss. What should’ve been a nice holiday weekend with family, however, quickly reveals itself to be anything but. Simi’s cousin, Filipp, is curiously hostile towards her, while Filipp’s stepdad, Stefan, is curiously the opposite towards Simi, all while Claudia’s dietary guidance verges on becoming overly militant. What’s causing everyone to act so strangely and aggressively? The answers are even worse than Simi’s worst nightmares.
It’s finally here, horror fans: The genre’s first great Easter film. And not only that, Austrian writer-director Peter Hengl’s unnerving, dread-filled powder keg of a film is also one of the most impressive genre debuts in years. Hengl takes his time doling out the psychological horror, using precise character work and intense performances to engulf viewers within a fraught maelstrom of body insecurities and emotional manipulation before gut-punching them with one disturbing shock after another. —Matt Barone
Peter Hengl is an Austrian screenwriter and director for film and TV. He studied at the Vienna Film Academy under professors such as Götz Spielmann and Michael Haneke.
His student films were shown at dozens of festivals worldwide and received several awards and nominations. Family Dinner is his first feature film.