The Treatment review: Sick, sad, vile and utterly effective

This film adaptation of a Mo Hayder thriller pulls no punches about incest, paedophilia and abduction

The Treatment
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Director: Hans Herbots
Cert: Club
Genre: Thriller
Starring: Geert Van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts, Johan van Assche
Running Time: 2 hrs 5 mins

Steel yourself. Based on the 2001 novel by British author Mo Hayder, this shadowy Belgian thriller takes on themes of incest, paedophilia and abduction with no little aplomb.

Inspector Nick Cafmeyer (Geert Van Rampelberg, excellent) is the loner cop haunted by the disappearance of his brother during childhood. It can’t help that he continues to live near the (now elderly) convicted paedophile who is presumed to have taken his sibling.

Nor does it help that the old man continues to taunt him with letters detailing what he may have done.

It gets worse. When the troubled detective is asked to head up an investigation into a brutal family beating and the kidnapping of a child, his inquiries soon lead him toward an underground network of sex offenders.


Local children repeatedly speak of a “troll” who watches them through their windows at night. Might this bogeyman be something more than playground myth?

As it happens, the “monster” turns out to be sicker and more twisted than Cafmeyer (or the viewer) could have imagined. Indeed, even if it did not constitute a major plot spoiler, I simply couldn’t bear to write the particulars relating to the case.

Belgium’s recent history of paedophile scandals serves to ground some (most) unlikely plot developments.

Shot in the same televisual vérité that we've come to associate with similarly gruesome Scandinavian thrillers, The Treatment is relentlessly sad in tone, utterly vile in content, and brilliantly effective in delivery.

We did say: steel yourself.

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic