Watching a large array of movies at one time can mess with your head. I get good movies, bad movies and movies that I find hard to explain. Sometimes, those are the best ones to watch because I don’t know what to expect. When it’s all done and over with, I’m left wondering if it was a good film or not. If I have to choose the strangest film that I’ve seen this year, it would have to be “Borgman.”

Evil presents itself in many forms, but none of them are as fascinating as Camiel Borgman [Jan Bijovet]. After being run out of his underground home in the woods by a local priest, Borgman sets off to search for shelter. When arriving at a local household, he receives a beating from Richard [Jeroen Perceval].  Feeling responsible for her husband’s actions, Marina [Hadewych Minis] puts Borgman up in the guest house until he’s better. But as time flies by, he gets closer and closer to the family, until his real motivations come to light.

Just like “Frank,” there is no other film like “Borgman.” There may be certain themes and ideas, but as a whole, this is a dark and original tale.

At least I can say that I won’t be forgetting Jan Bijovet’s face anytime soon. Since he is both the protagonist and the antagonist, the film lets the audience get to know him by the end. What I found refreshing, was that he’s a man of few words. But when he does speak, we’re left wondering what he’s going to say next.

There are many scenes where he doesn’t have to say anything, yet his body language tells us everything we need to know.

When it comes to the family, some of their transformations could have made some kind of sense. Hadewych Minis takes over the story after a while, as we see the actions of Borgman through her eyes.  At first, she takes him in because she feels sorry for him.  Then, once he starts bringing his friends over, she barely blinks an eye and even starts to enjoy his company. They hint that her dreams are making her paranoid, but they never follow up on it.

Having said that, Minis does give a good performance.  At times, she reacts like how anybody would react in certain situations. While his character doesn’t add much to the film, Jeroen Perceval also does a good job.  His outbursts creates conflict between Marina and Borgman, until someone does something about it.

To me, the eeriest characters in the film are the three children. They barely have a line of dialogue, yet their stone-cold faces easily set the mood. They too go through a transformation and it didn’t bother me, mostly because it kept the mystery alive. What was Borgman’s plan for this family and what was going to happen next?

Director Alex van Warmerdam lets this question linger so we could determine for ourselves. Besides creating a unique story with unique characters, he also presented some exquisite cinematography. Throughout the film, I felt a dream-like presence to some of the locations. Whenever a shot has to look beautiful, it’s beautiful. Who would of thought dead bodies at the bottom of a lake could look so hauntingly beautiful?

“I can come back, but it will have consequences.” After Borgman delivers this line, it sets the tone for what’s to come. Despite some drawbacks, “Borgman” is a disturbing, yet slightly comical look at evil in its most unusual form.

Rating: B


Matt Bilodeau can be contacted at

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