I went into The Treatment expecting another solid Nordic noir movie but what I got instead was something brutal and disturbing. This is an intense psychological thriller similar to 8MM only darker and more visceral. We will be following a detective working on a missing kids case haunted by childhood trauma. I know, I know, the plot sounds like your average eighties or nineties thriller. Add to this a generic lead who always keeps exploding at almost every turn and things start to look not too promising. However, the devil is in the details and this is the case with this movie as well. Geert Van Rampelberg gave an incredible performance and made his character that much more believable.
And once the story starts getting more and more fucked up, you will be completely captivated by it. At least I was. The Treatment feels like a darker version of Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. It’s based on a novel written by Mo Hayder, a British writer who sadly passed away last year. I was surprised to learn that such a beautiful woman could write such dark stuff but that was my knee-jerk toxic tribal masculinity reaction. All of us can look at the abyss if we dare to. And some of us live there permanently. But I digress, let’s get back to the movie at hand. With a running time of just over two hours, The Treatment is going to take up your whole evening.
And you better have a follow-up movie ready because you’re going to need something after this. I wouldn’t rate it as disturbing as Martyrs but closer to let’s say I Stand Alone. It left me with the same sinking feeling of ever-approaching death and evil in the world. And yet I couldn’t keep my eyes off it. Granted, since the pacing is a bit slower, I did make a couple of trips to the kitchen and bathroom without pausing the movie. As you can see, I’m yet to tackle the main theme of The Treatment and that’s pedophilia. This is such fucked up subject that any movie exploring must be extra careful. And we have to talk about it to understand it and deal with it in a better way.
You have this urge to just act immediately with such individuals. And the brilliantly written dialogue will make you scream at the screen the stuff you would do to them. And I’ll skip the whole “but then you would become just like them” stuff. I don’t know man, these things are so difficult to process and comprehend. So, I best leave it at that. If you have any thoughts on this, please feel free to write in the comments section.
Detective Nick Cafmeyer just arrived at a gruesome crime scene. After torturing a family of three for days, an unknown assailant ran to the nearby woods taking a young boy as a hostage. Soon, the police swarm the area, knowing that the time is running out. At the same time, Nick is trying to figure out if this has anything to do with events that happened when he was just a boy. Events that haunt him to this day.
The Treatment is not only viscerally and visually nasty but also conceptually nasty. It’s willing to go to some fucked up places and show us things we wouldn’t think about in a million years. And yet all of these things and worse do happen in the real world. So, we shouldn’t shy away from exploring them and keep in mind that there are people like this out there. As the story unfolds, we keep sinking further and further into this insane mindset. So much so that by the end, the final plot twist seems quite natural and logical despite being completely bonkers. And the movie manages to go through all of these issues without coming off as sensationalist or sleazy.
This is a very effective and intelligent thriller that could’ve benefited from a shorter running time. It thrives on multiple subplots all coming together in one gripping narrative. The production values are top-notch along with the cinematography. As always I recommend you watch this movie with the original Belgian audio, without dubbing. Oh, and I almost forgot about the small detail of what actually happened to that family. That’s one of the sickest and most vile things I have ever seen in any movie.
Director: Hans Herbots
Writers: Candy Davis, Carl Joos
Cast: Geert Van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts, Laura Verlinden, Johan van Assche, Dominique Van Malder
Fun Facts: In the original novel, the detective’s name is Jack Caffrey and the story is taking place in London.