Nick Cafmeyer has a dark cloud hanging over his life: he is haunted by the unsolved disappearance of his younger brother, Bjorn. When a disturbing case comes to light involving a missing nine-year-old, Nick heads a massive search which turns into a relentless manhunt.
The Treatment is a dark, bold, difficult and brilliant film, touching on a subject that is both sensitive and haunting. Centring around a detective, Nick (played brilliantly by Geert Van Rampelberg) with a troubled past, a hunt is on for a child abuser that imprisons his targeted family in their own homes and puts them through unimaginable horror before taking what is most precious to them, their children.
Our protagonist suffers from a similar haunting as his brother was taken at the age of 9 and hasn’t been seen since. The film follows his attempts to not only solve the most distressing case of his career but also to come to terms with what happened to him and try to discover the truth of his past.
This is a difficult film to watch but you cannot take your eyes from it. The story is sitting on a backdrop of stunning cinematography and pitch perfect performances. The beauty of the photography is in complete contrast with the evil at hand and the suffering felt by Nick. Even the use of some material that people will find extremely harrowing, if not graphic, shows how something beautiful taken out of context can be used to depict something horrific (the clips involving children were filmed in safe environments with their parents and were actually showing incredibly tender family moments).
There is a lack of character arcs for all but Nick. The others do get them but you feel that they have been condensed from the source novel to ensure that the film doesn’t get too bogged down with background instead of moving the narrative forward. For the most part this worked efficiently but every now and then the pacing faltered but this is small niggle in an otherwise excellent film.
The only other issues I had with it were the ending started moving into more generic detective thrillers and they perhaps played one of their big cards a little bit too early. You can see why they did it but it does remove a little of the mystery to which they afforded the abduction of Nick’s brother for far longer.
Overall this was a brilliantly made film from the direction through to the editing and a soaring score. The subject matter makes it a hard film to want to revisit but it is a film that you should give the first watch to. Things like this happen in our world and we should be unsettled by watching its depiction. And for that, full credit goes to this harrowing tale brought to us with exceptional talent from director Hans Herbots.
Nick, a struggling police Inspector is hunting for a killer that is incarcerating families in their own homes, while they torture and then kidnap their children. In this light-hearted tale, he is also struggling with the scars left from the disappearance of his brother when they were playing by the railway as children. Certainly at points the film feels influenced by the Cropsey legend – or possibly a Belgian variation, with its depiction of the pedophile as a troll or monster in the woods/closet to younger children. While films and television in the UK that deal with the topics of child abduction pedophilia can often struggle with the subject matter. On one side of the coin the story can be restrained, on the other they can go too far. The Treatment deals with the issue with grim and gritty detail and in only a handful of points feels that it goes too far in its depiction of the sexual desires of the characters.
While Nick and his adversary are well written and formed a number of other characters aren’t, this is probably due to the adaption of the novel for screen where scenes and characters need to be truncated for time to be able to tell the story. Nicks pain and the comparisons between the timelines of him as an adult and the events during his childhood are brilliantly split and throughout the film you are able to see the open wounds he still carries as an adult. The film also felt a little strange in that some characters were revealed and introduced earlier than you would have expected in a film of this type – creating more of a hero fighting against an adversary cop drama feel. This however you might expect a little as the film is more a thriller that’s ‘horrific’ in its subject matter than a full-blown horror film.
While in parts it slowed a little and its pacing was smooth overall the film carefully and tactfully weaved a story around its uncomfortable themes. Overall I rather enjoyed The Treatment. If it’s a horror or a detective thriller could be left up for discussion – it’s certainly worth taking the time to decide for yourself.
The Treatment is out on DVD on 14th September 2015.