THE TREATMENT (Belgium/TBC/131mins)
Directed by Hans Herbots. Starring Geert Van Rampelberg, Johan van Assche, Ina Geerts, Ingrid De Vos
THE PLOT: Inspector Nick Cafmeyer (Geert Van Rampelberg) is assigned to the case of a family held prisoner , whose young son was abducted by a sexual predator. Unable to shake the idea that this is somehow connected to the disappearance of his brother when he was nine years old, Nick finds himself drawn back into the case surrounding his brother and a manhunt for this new sexual predator.
THE VERDICT: Based on a novel by Mo Hayder, THE TREATMENT is a slow burning crime thriller filled with uncomfortable moments and engaging characters, but runs just a little too long in the end.
Geert Van Rampelberg is fantastic in the lead role as Nick Cafmeyer. Still living in the family home, and consistently harassed by Ivan Plettinckx (Johan van Assche), the man Nick believes is responsible for his brother’s disappearance, Van Rampelberg captures the wide eyed and manic feel of a man whose ordered life is just for show. Ina Geerts plays Nick’s superior officer Danni; a woman who knows Nick all too well, Johan van Assche is wonderfully creepy as the antagonistic neighbour and Ingrid De Vos is vile as Nancy Lammers, a woman with little scruples.
Carl Joos’s screenplay winds together the personal tale of Nick, and the fact that he has never been able to move from the house where his brother disappeared – perhaps he likes being messed with, perhaps he is waiting for his brother to return? – with the ongoing investigation into a new case of child abduction. In weaving these stories together, with their many twists and turns, the film becomes a little bogged down, and although we spend a lot of time with these characters, we never really get to know them all that well. The same can be said for the criminal’s motivations, which are given a lot of screen time, but end up making little sense.
Director Hans Herbots creates a tense, violent and often gut churningly violent thriller in THE TREATMENT, but struggles to make the film feel as urgent as the characters would have you believe it is. Subplots appear and disappear seemingly at random and, although the final act of the film is thrilling, the pace of the story until this point is uneven and makes the film feel every bit as long as it’s 131 minute running time.
In all, THE TREATMENT is a dark and often tense crime thriller, but struggles under the weight of the many sub plots it establishes. Tighter editing and a clearer voice throughout the film would have benefitted it, but as it stands it is a decent and often disturbing piece of cinema.
RATING: 3.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

The Treatment
Review by Brogen Hayes
3.5Disturbing Thriller
  • filmbuff2011

    Scandinavian countries haven’t quite cornered the market on dark, edgy thrillers. The Treatment comes from Belgium, mostly known in cinematic circles for gifting us the talented Dardenne Brothers. But if this superb crime thriller is anything to go by, then we should be taking more notice of other types of Belgian films. Nick (Geert Van Rampelberg) is a weary, chain-smoking cop desperately trying to find out what happened to his brother, who disappeared when they were kids. A known sex offender, Plettinckx (Johan Van Assche) taunts him repeatedly to breaking point. But Plettinckx could be the key to a case that Nick is working on: the disappearance of another child. Nick digs deeper and finds himself waist-deep in the world of paedophile rings. There’s a particularly nasty paedophile on the loose who has a habit of biting his victims before killing them. Can Nick stop him before he claims his next victim… or will Nick himself burn out from exhaustion? Right from the start, The Treatment sets its bleak tone and doesn’t let up. Make no mistake – this is not a date movie. If anything, this dark, disturbing thriller shares cinematic DNA with the likes of Se7en and 8mm. A Hollywood remake is most unlikely though, as director Hans Herbots takes the audience to some very dark places, with only glimmers of light here and there. Based on the book by Mo Hayder, Herbots maintains an imminent sense of death and real evil, but a man-made one at that. One scene sees a mother chained to a radiator, desperately trying to respond the muffled cries of her frightened children in the floor below. She scrabbles away at the floor to reach them… That’s just one riveting scene of many throughout the film. Well-acted by the cast, particularly Van Rampelberg, The Treatment is not an easy film to watch. Given that it deals with the darkest sides of human nature, you would need a strong stomach and an open mind to take it. But if you’re willing to go on this journey with Herbots, it proves to be a rewarding experience. It’s a strong contender for the finest crime thriller of the year. Better sit up and take note, Scandinavia. There’s a new kid on the crime block. ****