Mo Hayder's novel becomes a bleak Belgian crime thriller from Hans Herbots
The Treatment (De Behandeling) might be Belgian but stylistically it owes a huge debt to the current vogue for Nordic noir. It's a term synonymous with gritty crime thrillers and The Treatment drags this grim sub-genre into even darker, wilder places. Based on the 2001 novel by British author Mo Hayder, the second in her Jack Caffrey series, it tackles themes of incest, paedophilia and abduction.
After a child is kidnapped, Inspector Nick Cafmeyer (Geert Van Rampelberg) leads the investigation and soon finds himself heading down the rabbit hole into a twisted world of abuse and sexual deviants, as he hunts seemingly supernatural villain 'The Troll'.
As has become de rigueur, our lead detective is suitably damaged, battling personal demons as he struggles to come to terms with the disappearance of his own brother when he was nine-years-old. This childhood trauma clouds his mind and his personal obsession bleeds into his police work. Van Rampelberg invests the character with a believable intensity as he goes beyond the law in this race to save a child's innocence.
Director Hans Herbots' most recent work is in TV, on European heist drama The Spiral (not to be confused with the similarly titled French policier), and here he creates another shadowy world where heinous crimes lurk just below the surface. And while the subject matter is obviously horrific Herbots shows real restraint in terms of what is actually shown on screen.
Nevertheless, The Treatment is almost parodic in its commitment to cheerlessness. With its unrelenting focus on pain and sadness it's undeniably powerful but a little one-dimensional; by denying us a breadth of emotions it's hard to connect with the story in any meaningful way.
Selected release from Fri 21 Aug.