Genre – World Cinema > Crime
Run Time –131 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – Belgium
Awards – 3 Wins & 5 Nominations
Amazon – £6.00 DVD £6.49 Blue Ray
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It seems pedophilia is always in the news these days with the internet and social media vomiting up more and more of these people and their actions, be it historical cases in show business or the political establishment or current school teachers and priests. Kids clearly were abused by famous people back in the day but it’s equally sure some people enjoy making accusations for attention, cash or reasons around their own sexuality. Calling Cliff Richard a child abuser just because he looks gay is pretty lazy. What we do know for sure about these people is they find careers where they can get access to children, and countries like Belgium (the subject matter here) and Austria seem to have more than their fair share of the nasty ones with many recent famous cases in the news. In one case the Belgium police appeared to help one or two escape from prison, Mark Dutroux the most notorious.
Geert Van Rampelberg ... Nick Cafmeyer
Roy Aernouts ... Bjorn Cafmeyer
Ina Geerts ... Danni Petit
Johan van Assche ... Ivan Plettinckx
Laura Verlinden ... Steffi Vankerkhove
Dominique Van Malder ... Roland Claeren
Roel Swanenberg ... Hans Vankerkhove (as Roel Swaenenberg)
Kyan Steverlynck ... Joff Vankerkhove
Ingrid De Vos ... Nancy Lammers
Michael Vergauwen ... Chris Gommaer
Circé Lethem ... Iris Kryotos (as Circe Lethem)
Brit Van Hoof ... Cindy Simons
Tibo Vandenborre ... Alex Simons
Stan Puynen ... Robin Simons
Jan Hammenecker ... Inspecteur Verbraeke
Handsome and highly strung detective Nick Cafmeyer (Geert Van Rampelberg) of the Antwerp police is working on a case of sexual abuse, one making him more anxious than usual as it mirrors the disappearance of his 9-year-old brother Bjorn (Roy Aernouts), snatched when the two were playing at the railway and never seen again. But the detective is not only taunted by his childhood loss but by Ivan Plettinckx (Johan van Assche), a local pedophile who was number one suspect for his kid brother’s disappearance back in the day and lives now close by and takes fiendish pleasure in harassing Nick for persecuting him. It was never proved and the case quietly dropped against Plettinckx. But when the pedophile kills himself through hate and self guilt for the man he is, he leaves behind information in his house that may help the detective in his current investigation.
His female boss, Inspector Danni Petit (Ina Geerts), wants him to get a grip and separate the two crimes but Cafmeyer sensing there is a connection. They have no other suspects and when another 9-year-old kid turns up dead with a bite in his neck hidden high up in a tree its clear it’s likely this particular killer will kill again. They discover he has a sick way of getting at his victims that involves drugging the family in the home and so terrible things thereafter. Nick heads a massive search which turns into a relentless manhunt as more and more local kid’s talk of the Troll kid snatcher.
So it’s not Scando crime but as good as, Belgium having its fair share of moody good looking singleton cops and cliché psycho pedophiles. And the pedo’s on show are cliché, of course, the slobbering unlikable loners with demented moms and big bellies and tattoos you get in all of these movies. In reality pedos can be any social class and the more respectable looking and personable they are the more likely they are to get access to children. But TV and movies always show them as vermin weirdo’s to get the audience onside early on so there is never nay doubt who is the bad guy to contrast with the handsome flawed cop.
Its wobbly camera stuff with foreboding music as the tense hunt unfolds. Its not one for big twists but there are clues to be picked up on. The actual reveal on why the pedophile does what it does in the film is a bit over the top as is the kids talking about Trolls. But you need to inject that fear to keep the films moving forward because you know they will get their man/woman. It’s intelligent in its approach but follows familiar lines to reassure the viewer on the lines drawn. Pedophilia is a disease that produces desire and not something anyone chooses to be.
Acting is good although Cafmeyer a bit too hunky in the lead with his five-o’clock shadow and vulnerabilities that no doubt have the women melting for him watching on. There are early clues on who the bad people are and you are surprised when they are indeed the bad people, a kind of double dupe.
Music is very good and the locations suitably suburban and not that very Belgium, Europe’s most nondescript country, they say. But I was wrapped up in it from the start and the tone set at the right time and pace. Subtitles are not too much of a hassle as the camera is mostly the cops strained emotional behaviors and shifty salivating pedophiles on the very edges of society. But gloomy Northern European cinema does this stuff well and I would recommend this one.
Imdb.com –7.2 /10.0 (5,124votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 92% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 72%critic’s approval
Behind the scenes
Radio Times –‘A bleak, uncompromising look into the brutal death of innocence’.
The Guardian –‘It is claustrophobic and disquieting, put over with gruesome conviction’.
Little White Lies –‘a film about acts utterly unconscionable, even unimaginable, which Herbots expertly outlines without ever drifting into over explicitness or sensationalist excess. In place of shock, we get shame’.
Irish Times –‘The Treatment is relentlessly sad in tone, utterly vile in content, and brilliantly effective in delivery’.
Observer –‘Horribly convincing performances add exploitative heft, while Johan Van Essche's production design makes the Boschian hell seem all too real’.
Film School Rejects –‘It's a slow-burn that holds the attention through growing suspense and the promise of devastating reveals’.
Minneapolis –‘Aside from a few annoying implausibilities, "The Treatment" is smart suspense at its darkest’.
Daily Telegraph –‘The subject matter could have been exploitative or cheapened in the wrong hands. But Herbots deftly weaves an intricate, if somewhat baggy, tale’.
This cinema may well be familiar to fans of John Landis's film 'An American Werewolf in London', because it was here that David (the werewolf) meets his zombified friend Jack. At that time, and indeed, in the film, the cinema on this site showed porn, but nowadays it's a perfectly respectable cinema... even if the suspicious stains on the walls suggest otherwise! The ABC cinema generally shows arthouse and independent films, along with some of the less mainstream Hollywood films, which usually open here several months after they went on general release. For example, 'American Psycho' is showing there at the time that I am writing this review, some four months after its UK general release date! However, this was also one of the few cinemas in the country to show the excellent Japanese film 'Kikujiro', and it does seem to have a commitment to showing some excellent world cinema! The last time I visited this cinema was to see the tedious and overlong Ally Sheedy lesbian film 'High Art' in 1999. I found the staff of the cinema to be pretty curt, but not actually unpleasant. The screens were both underground, and quite small though. Probably the biggest advantage about the cinema is its central location, literally a few feet from Piccadilly Circus Underground station. Prices aren't too bad for a West End cinema either - £4.30 on Mondays, £6 the rest of the week - but expensive for cinemas when compared with the rest of the country!