Screenplay by Carl Joos
Based on the book by Mo Hayder
Directed by Hans Herbots
Starring Geert Van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts, Johan van Assche,
Laura Verlinden, Dominique Van Malder, Roel Swanenberg,
Kyan Steverlynck, Ingrid De Vos, Michael Vergauwen
Released by Artsploitation Films / 7/7/15
The Pitch: The Treatment is an unsettling Belgian murder mystery that gets under your skin and stays there. A nail-biting suspense yarn based on one of a series of best-selling novels by British crime writer Mo Hayder, the film is not an old-fashioned Agatha Christie-type whodunit, but its gritty themes of sexual violence and pedophilia give it a raw, contemporary intensity that places it in the same company as the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” book and film series.
Police inspector Nick Cafmeyer is investigating a case where a mother and father have been bound and beaten, and their young son is missing. An obsessive loner, Cafmeyer discovers that there are other similar cases – tragedies where the parents were forced by a psychopath to harm their own children, who then vanish. For the inspector, this triggers memories of his own brother’s abduction as a child, and the possibility that he may still be alive somewhere. Grim and wholly engrossing, The Treatment is a thriller with an edge. Extras include premiere featurette, deleted scenes and trailer.
Last Word: The last time I was uncomfortable in a movie about missing kids (which is sort of a niche I guess) I was watching Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) torture accused child killer Paul Dano in Prisoners. But that was nothing compared to the gut wrenching Belgian thriller The Treatment and the tour de force performance of Geert Van Rampelberg (The Broken Circle Breakdown) as Belgian Police Inspector Nick Cafmeyer, who is investigating the case of a missing child whose bound and beaten parents were forced by a crazed psychopath to harm their own offspring before vanishing into the ether with their kid.
While that alone might make some people a little squeamish about the subject matter (Americans are notorious about their refusal to allow pets and kids to suffer harm in movies) this flick isn’t afraid to up the emotional ante by introducing themes of pedophilia and yes, psychosexual violence into the mix. Not to mention increasing the audience’s already taut tension by turning Cafmeyer’s manhunt for the missing child into a personal exploration of his own past (the abduction of his brother when he was a young boy) and the traumatizing (and still occurring) emotional abuse he suffers at the hand of local pedophile (and original, albeit non-convicted, suspect) Ivan Plettinckx (Johan Van Assche) who likes to remind Cafmeyer of his loss.
The similarities of both cases drives Cafmeyer toward a fervid reckoning of sorts and takes the audience along for the hardcore, torturous ride, which not only shocks and torments the Inspector, but leaves us, the viewers, as horrified by the deeds of men as Cafmeyer is.
While The Treatment may be a difficult film to watch (and trust me, it is) it is also an honestly scary story that is steeped in the reality of the most awful of crimes and the scars that those left behind have to live with, which, to me, is far more terrifying than the current wave of found footage slasher flicks that are drowning the horror/thriller genre.
And while the performances in the film are crazily good, the real kudos has to go to director Hans Herbots who somehow manages to keep the movie from sensationalizing or belittling the subject matter while still making it worth sitting through at the expense of one’s own gut reaction to flee from it.
And you will want to.
But stick with it to the end and it will stick with you for hours to come (if not days), which, as we all know, is the mark of a film worthy of being called great…although you will want to cuddle your own children for an uncomfortable amount of time.