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The Treatment is the epitome of everything that’s wrong with the current crop of crime dramas. The characters, plot and tone are so formulaic that you’ll have passed out with boredom long before its two hours have expired.
A family is held hostage, the young son is abducted, and – gasp! – the lead investigator is connected to the case by a traumatic experience in his childhood. Nick, our maverick hero, has a whatever-it-takes-to-get-the-job-done attitude, which is unfortunate, as his macho swaggering hinders the investigation from start to finish. Dickhead cop with poor self-control disguised as unfettered masculinity? Check.
He allows one witness to commit suicide right in front of him, but that’s OK, because said witness possibly murdered Nick’s brother – he’s clearly better off dead than arrested and interrogated by someone who isn’t emotionally involved. Never mind, the dead man leaves a series of abstract clues that only Nick can decipher. Phew. Your only lead is a grimy old map? Check.
The police allow the only person found at the scene of the crime to walk off with what the audience knows is going to be a key piece of evidence, because, well, look at him! The guy is clearly harmless! Creepy, obese, mentally disturbed pervert? Check.
Children connected to the victims refer to a “troll” which climbs walls and peeps in their bedroom windows. Instead of, I don’t know, questioning the kids as potential witnesses to an intruder, Nick reads a book about the mythological nature of trolls. He also assaults their chief suspect in hospital, almost killing him, and rendering him unable to answer questions, having tried to bribe a predatory criminal with known associations to paedophiles instead of hauling her off to jail. Failure to follow police procedure, thereby dragging the story out for another hour? Check.
We are treated to lovingly shot images of a child on a mortuary slab, a freshly hanged corpse losing control of its bladder, and a mother chained up in her own home, desperately clawing through plyboard to witness the unimaginable horror which lies beyond. Psycho porn masquerading as an unflinching look at the dark side of humanity? Check.
This is so clearly an attempt to play on the worst fears of young, middle-class, nuclear families, that the plot is actually risible as opposed to terrifying. Oh no! What if PAEDOPHILES invaded your STARTER HOME to VIOLATE YOUR CHILDREN’S INNOCENCE and PEE ON YOUR BRAND NEW CARPETS?
Most offensive of all is the closing shot, which is supposed to movingly encapsulate the hero’s great tragedy, but actually just reminds you that our supposed hero has let someone else die from sheer incompetence. The real detective in The Treatment is the forensic lab, without which the crime would never have been solved.
The point of a police procedural is to show you the painstaking steps with which professional officers track down criminals. This sorry tale presents Nick as a tragic hero and then excuses his mistakes because he’s sad. There are no excuses. Even Watson would have had this case wrapped up in five minutes.
The Treatment was directed by Hans Herbots and stars Geert Van Rampelberg, Ina Geerts and Johan van Assche. It opens at the Irish Film Institute on 21 August.