The film opens with a home video of the slaughter with a captive bolt pistol of a pig on a European farm. The video rewinds to play the slaughter in slow motion, which emphasizes the hand-held barrel against the pig's fore-skull and the cartridge explosion. A party centered on a game called Pilot and Passengers is broken up by Georg and Anna, when they return home while the party is in progress. The host of the party, Eva, is their daughter who lives in another part of town and who has, it turns out in questioning of Benny after the incident, taken advantage of the planned absence of Georg and Anna to host the impromptu party in their home. While watching a newscast, Georg and Anna discuss the money Eva won in the pyramid scheme she was promoting at the party. In a locker room at school, Benny encourages his friends to take positions in his own Pilot and Passengers game.
While his parents are away for the weekend, Benny invites a girl (Ingrid Stassner) he has seen outside the local video store to his home. He shows her the video of the pig slaughter, and they talk about the film. She: "Did you make this film? How was it, with the pig? I mean, have you ever seen a dead person--a real one, I mean?" Benny: "No. I once saw a TV program about the tricks they use in action films. It's all ketchup and plastic," and then he unveils and loads the slaughtering gun. He holds it against his chest, and dares the girl to discharge it. When she refuses, he calls her a coward (Feigling!). He holds it against her chest, and when he hesitates, she calls him a Feigling also. He fires the gun, and she falls. Her falling reveals a video monitor, on which we see her crawling away from Benny and completely out of frame, Benny running to reload the gun and returning to shoot her a second time, the girl crawling back partially into frame, Benny again reloading and firing, this time apparently at her head, and, finally, her body remaining still.
During a choir practice of the Bach motet "Trotz dem alten Drachen," Benny completes his pyramid scheme. Then at home again, with the weekend begun, Benny first covers the body, goes through her school bag, arranges an evening out with friends, eats snacks, moves the girl's body to a closet, and cleans up the blood. Some of the cleanup is seen through a video monitor, while Benny edits a video of the experience. Benny goes out to a dance club and stays overnight at his friend's home, and, on his way home, goes to a cinema, window shops, and gets his hair shorn to the scalp.
After his parents return, his father harangues Benny about his haircut, asking if Benny had any thought about how others would react to him now. Later on, while the family is watching the news in Benny's room, Benny switches the signal to the video he has made, to the game of dares and the ensuing three shots. Benny reveals the body in his closet, and Georg removes the videotape, asks if anyone else knows about this, and through careful grilling finds that there are no witnesses.
Clearly disturbed, the father and mother leave Benny's room, and Benny asks that the door be left open. In the living room, Georg lists—rather dispassionately—the options they have: either to alert the authorities, with a resulting judgment of parental neglect and placement of their son in a psychiatric institution, or to destroy the evidence. Anna urges—with understated passion after warnings from Georg not to fall apart—that any option chosen must be carefully followed to its end.
Anna takes Benny on vacation to Egypt, and the ever-present video camera captures them both in their hotel, in the village, touring ancient tombs, watching sail-gliders at the beach, even a private moment of Anna in the bathroom. There are several phone calls from a booth in the post office, with Benny and Anna separately taking the phone. Benny seems barely affected by any recent past, and he seems unable to fathom why his mother breaks down in sobs at one point during the vacation. When they return home after six days, the apartment is clean of any trace of the girl. Georg, who had stayed at home, succeeded in cutting the body into small enough pieces to be flushed down the toilet or otherwise inconspicuously removed. That evening, Georg asks Benny "Why did you do it?" and the reply is, "I don't know. ...I wanted to see what it's like, possibly." Benny has no answer to Georg's question, "And what was it like?"
On video, we see another Pilot and Passengers party, this time being hosted by Georg and Anna. In "life," we see Anna and Georg at a concert of the choir Benny is in. The choir sings: "Despite the ancient dragon, despite the gaping jaws of death, despite the constant fear, let the world rage and toss. I stand here and sing in perfect calm." On video, we see from the door of Benny's darkened bedroom, standing slightly ajar, and we hear faint voices discussing what to do. In life, a voice-over asks, "Why did you come to us now?" We see Benny being interviewed by policemen, and he answers merely, "Because." With no following questions, Benny asks, "Can I go now?" After the questioning, Benny meets Georg and Anna in the hall and, after a long moment, says merely, "Entschuldigung." (Excuse me, as it is used to apologize for brushing by a stranger in a crowded location.)Arno Frisch as Benny
Angela Winkler as Anna, Benny's mother
Ulrich Mühe as Georg, Benny's father
Stephanie Brehme as Evi
Stefan Polasek as Ricci
Ingrid Stassner as Mädchen