The only thing relatively bland and safe about The Treatment is, in fact, its title, a fairly nondescriptive moniker that can't begin to describe the beast of a film that unfolds in this Belgian work from director Hans Herbots, a veteran director with mostly television experience who expertly crafts this relentless and unsettling story based upon the bestselling novel by British crime writer Mo Hayder.
I must confess that as I watched the film I found myself thinking of American detective writer and fierce child advocate Andrew Vachss, my own favorite novelist and a writer whose work is similarly gripping and relentlessly authentic. This is the kind of film that makes you immediately go and look up its source material and want to read everything that Mo Hayder has ever written.
In the film, a police inspector (Geert Van Rampelberg) is assigned a rather brutal case where a mother and father have been bound and beaten while their young son is missing. It's a familiar case, actually, as the investigation reveals multiple other similar cases including, perhaps, our dear detective's own childhood experiences which ring familiar. As the investigation unfolds, The Treatment becomes increasingly compelling and the kind of film to which you completely surrender or, perhaps, for the more timid types you become completely repelled.
The Treatment comes with a fairly basic set of blu-ray extras including deleted scenes, a premiere featurette and the trailer. Fortunately, the film itself is strong enough to make this a "must see" for any fan of gritty, hardcore crime dramas.
The crime in The Treatment is the kind of crime that makes you flinch yet never stop reading. Here in my hometown of Indianapolis, for example, I found myself remembering a case like the Sylvia Likens case, a 1965 murder that traumatized the city and continues to do so over 50 years later.
As Nick, the police detective, Van Rampelberg gives an enthralling performance that grabs the audience early on and never really lets go. He's a swirling cauldron of emotions and actions, a guy who's both a stellar cop and a broken human being. It's a wonderful performance stays with you long after the closing credits have rolled.
While the script itself is strong, it's the world created by Herbots that ultimately carries The Treatment and takes its rather basic story and truly brings it to life in an extraordinary way.
The Treatment is yet the latest release from up-and-coming indie distributor Artsploitation Films to make you really wonder how films like this never arrived stateside. Oh sure, most Americans avoid subtitles like they avoid paying taxes. But, seriously folks, this is a film you'll definitely want to see and add to your collection.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic