Molly is a loner scavenger in a post-apocalyptic badlands. She’s hunted down by a separate faction of scavengers to be a champion in their sadistic one-on-one bouts as Supplikants, ruthless and mindless killing machines produced by a synthetic drug. With food being scarce and peoples’ humanity on the edge of total extinction, Molly’s on the run on barren land until she happens upon Bailey, a young girl held up in a makeshift tent and waiting for her departed parents to return with food. When the scavengers track down Molly, Bailey becomes a bargaining chip, used as bait to lure sought after Molly to the scavenger offshore compound where the odds are in their favor, but Molly knows how to fight when she forgoes using her pulsating supernatural power. She will stop at nothing to save and protect Bailey, one of the last good and innocent humans left amongst desolation and savagery.
One part mad science, one part cyberpunk, “Molly” is all post-apocaplytic kickass from Netherlands’ director Colinda Bongers and co-directed with screenwriter Thijs Meuwese. “Molly” is this generations “Mad Max,” a vibrant gauntlet of darkness with a speck of illuminating hope, with the very first scene being a brief glimpse of the past, a fun-in-the-sun holiday at the beach, but in a split second, the cut-to abruptly cuts out the chirping of seagulls, the jovial laughter of children, and the familiar hum of all beach goers. The story literally cuts to the chase with Molly running for her very survival from three armed scavengers, setting up the story from the get go that Molly’s guard would always be tested. “Molly,” without a doubt, resembles a George Miller first film concoction of noticeable low-budget quality with high caliber, high-octane action.
Julia Batelaan tackles the namesake role. The then 20-year-old Batelaan musters up enough physicality to compete with a highly demanding character despite her slender, unlikely heroine frame. Batelaan is no Gal Gadot, but she gives the performance all she can and, then, gives some more in a role that requires a lot of gear to be worn, numerous fight sequences, extended physical scenes, and brief nudity whilst in battle. Batelaan clearly overshadows a cohort of onscreen antagonists, including even her best possible match as a rival by Annelies Appelhof who displays a different kind of tough; one that’s more henchman centric and mechanically advanced. Appelhof’s taller, broader, and equally as tender as Batelaan that dictates her character, Kimmy, the ideal barrier to best if Molly wants to succeed. Yeah, of course, there’s also a clear cut boss in actor Joose Bolt. In the role of Deacon, a maniacal scavenger leader hellbent on winning the world’s bullet currency through the mortal combat of Supplikants by proxy, Boost supplements a harlequin character to fold. “Molly” also includes Emma de Paauw, Tamara Brinkman, and Andre Dongelmans in the cast.
While Molly’s a beautifully visual film with moments to be excited about, Bongers and Meuwese’s post-apocaplytic tale has a hard time being a great film to revisit over and over again. For one, the fight choreography is a slow and robotically rehearsed and doesn’t strike as completely natural. In fairness, this flaw should be given a pass as the last shot is just over a half-hour long of an uncut take of Molly doing her best Tony Jaa impersonation with extended fight takes from room-to-room, up to the top boss level, as if you’re nostalgically playing Streets of Rage 2 (ya know?! On the Sega Genesis!). Yet, there’s still something off about “Molly” and one could say that that the focus of storyline uneasiness surrounds Molly herself: Who is Molly? Why does she have super powers? Where did she come from? Why does she really care for this child? All good questions that don’t really come to fruition in the film, but have promise to be answered by the open-to-a-sequel ending.
Artsploitation Films presents “Molly” on a high definition 1080p Blu-ray home video in a widescreen, 1.78:1 aspect ratio format. Bongers and Meuwese deliver such rich coloring while not over-saturating the 2017 film to the point of obnoxiousness; Molly herself is a hue enriched character, with all her gear, trekking through a desolate oceanside landscape that’s mainly white sand and brown foliage, especially with the marauders who also sport ragged, dark colors, and leaving such an impacting visual aesthetic to digest while concreting a heroine. The English DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound is full of range from a slew of kick-punches from the numerous fight sequences to the juicy stitching of her own profusely bleeding wound. Even though this is a Dutch film, the casts’ English is quite good and well prevalent. Bonus features include a 30-minute featurette entitled “Making of Molly,” directors’ commentary with Colinda Bongers and Thijs Meuwese, and Artsploitation Films trailers. Bordering self-explosion with a barely hinged story, “Molly” eeks out an entertaining, post-apocalyptic, retribution narrative on the opposite side of the spectrum and the palette punctuating visuals and an extremely long take finale make this film a science fiction worth scavenging for!
A young and beautiful butcher shop assistant succumbs to the middle-aged butcher’s sexual advancements and fantasies at the workplace after she catches glimpses his sorrow, but when the butcher ends up naked on the shop’s floor with his throat cut, the assistant becomes the number one murder suspect for an inspector who coincidently looks almost identical to the deceased butcher. As the investigation deepens into the assistant, the inspector’s solemn, solitary life blurs to an assimilation into the butcher’s and his suspect turns from being a prime target to being a crucial part of the his physical and mental altering integration into the dead butcher.
“Meat” is a powerful transcending film seismically barreling through a Lynchian structure consigned to provoke the consequences of unhappiness and the consequences of poor choices during unhappiness. Directors Victor Nieuwenhuijs and Maartje Seyferth have orchestrated a moderately expressionistic arthouse Dutch drama told in a spiraling sexual context. The meat in “Meat” and the sex in “Meat” clearly share a correlation, peppered as motifs from start to end, and the positive and negative dimensions of the two are so obscured that pinpointing the differences between them are impossible, but both are for sure the last hope for the butcher and his assistant Roxy to embody the essence of sex and meat for opposite reasons. Whereas Inspector Mann simply drags wholeheartedly through his existence, expressing his numbness toward his mundane job and harshly breaking up with his lover without an ounce of compassion. Its until the butcher’s case lands in his lap does the Inspector shows signs of life again.
If you notice that lead actor Titus Muizelaar’s dual roles have purposefully generic labels. The butcher is credited as just the butcher while the Inspector has a proper name, but the name Mann is just as indistinguishable as if the character was christened Guy. The synonym character was intended for blending, to blur their personas, and to transform one into another. To explore the transformation, “Meat” begins a parallel between the butcher who, in a metaphorical sense, has his cake and eats it too and the inspector painstakingly limps from one spot to another. A contrasting experience between the two firmly establish their individualities. Then, the film shifts gears midst a catalyst with the butcher’s mysterious death, forcing the female assistant, an uninhibited role performed uninhibitedly by Nellie Benner, to be the resilient gateway for the inspector. Third gear shifts into the inspector being more and more intrigued, if not extremely envious shown very subtly, by the butcher’s seemingly unchained facade. Each character emits an expressionless stature with a deep-rooted ugliness burrowed inside and each desire a change in their turmoiled lives, whether it’s sustaining love, seeking love, or able to love in order to battle every aspect of oppressive depression.
The uncomfortable open and intimate relationship between the butcher, Wilma Bakker’s Tiny, and the shop owner and the psychosexual workplace harassment involving the enthusiastic, video-documenting assistant filets the juicy bits from the bone with numerous innuendoes and explicit carnal exhibitions taking brazen residence within the animal blood stained walls of the butcher’s small meat market. You’ll never look at steak, pork chops, and leg of lamb the same way again! Only when “Meat” transitions into that second gear does the erotica becomes less erotic and more forced and horrifically exploitive. Scenes of undisclosed rape and of blatant genitalia speak upon that aforementioned correlation of raw meat and sex; no choice is given to the cow when the cow is killed and slaughtered for the cow’s delicious beef and the same can be said in sex as it’s taken without much consent and it’s being reaped for the benefit of others.
Graphically infrasexual and skewed beyond simplicity, “Meat’s” refreshingly loaded with unpleasantries and basted moistly with an outer layer of perversion that drips into an oven of thriller surreality. The Artsploitation team lives up to the moniker by, after being long overdue, crafting a home video release of 2013’s “Meat” aka “Vlees” onto DVD and on digital home video. The digital screener provided for review doesn’t give much insight into the audio and video qualities or speak to the testament of the special features. However, “Meat” is a phenomenal film that’s well-aged and ready to be rubbed, tenderized, devoured in all senses of the meaning.
Inspector Nick Cafmeyer has a past constantly haunted by the abduction and the unknown whereabouts of his brother Bjorn. Nick always knew who took his beloved brother, a neighbor named Ivan Plettinckx, who relentlessly harasses and leaves clues about missing Bjorn, sometimes leaving clues right under Nick’s front door. Simultaneously, a young boy has gone missing when the parents are discovered in their home handcuffed to the fixtures for a number of days. Nick uses his tragic past and anger as extreme motivation in finding the missing boy and conducts a grand manhunt, ensuing to track down a dangerous and disturbed pedophile that is only known by the monikers of The Biter and The Troll. When Nick believes his missing boy case and his sibling Bjorn are connected, Ivan Plettinckx becomes his number one suspect and while Nick continues to investigate and target Plettinckx, another innocent family comes under siege by The Troll and the family’s time is quickly running out.
“The Treatment” is a captivating crime thriller from Belgium with a controversial and complex subject matter perhaps too explicit and bold for American taste. Not many films can pull off severe child mistreatment without the American ratings board slicing and dicing content and leaving difficult and displeasurable scenes on the cutting room floor. For director Hans Herbots, the cutting room floor serves at only his will as he chooses what stays and goes from his film “The Treatment.” Herbots has an incessant delivery of darkness that will clutch tightly and not release your attention, causing a disorientation in the story; a certifiable understatement when going deeper and deeper into this grim pit of child perversion. Just when you think the story starts to become bright and soft, Herbots slightly navigates around the rim of the positive portions and abruptly thrusts us back into that disturbing world with the homemade movies encoded in VHS video tapes, dead children with rectum bleeding and bite marks, and a story so heinous, bathing in sanitizer won’t thoroughly clean the body nor soul.
Aside from Inspector Nick’s dual and intertwining plots, a plethora of parallel character story lines supports the main artery, attempting to divert the focus toward a more “whodunnit” crime mystery: a swimming instructor whose awfully suspicious around police and seemingly uncomfortable around children, a father with an abusive past but supposedly victimized by The Troll, and a mentally unstable junk collector who happened to be dumpster diving during the police search for the missing boy. These characters are lead in various directions with no clear evidence or stability toward their role. The genius behind these characters are from the pens of “The Treatment” novelist, a British crime writer and bestselling author, Mo Hayder and the film adaption screenwriter Carl Joos. The particulars in molding the ambiguous characters are hard to detect, leaving one to guess these characters’ intentions and creating tension and determination on finding out just who is and who is not the child killing creep.
I have not kept up on Belgium actors and am not in the loop of their skill or fame, but theater actor Geert Van Rampelberg as Inspector Nick Cafmeyer engrosses the character by being a reckless and driven man unhinged by his past. Rampelberg might oversell here and there in certain scenes, but his shortcomings are overshadowed by the fire in his eyes and the repulsive subject matter of the story. If in the vengeful shoes of Nick, there is an expectation that one might act the same as Nick, aggressing for truth and striving to save the world no matter the cost even if that means putting the law on the back burner. I also like the aspect that Nick has no love interest; he ties himself to no one, embracing his cause all the more. However, there lies an unspoken companionship between him and his supervisor Danni. Their professional interactions seem personally close, but Nick also keeps himself at a distance, keeping her from becoming to close and that separation keeps him, if any, focused on the task at hand.
Artsploitation Films scores big with the Eye Works Films production and taboo-ridden film “The Treatment” and as an extra bonus, the Blu-ray release sizzles with a stunning 2.35:1 widescreen ratio presentation and a 5.1 surround sound in Dutch language with English subtitles. The subtitles don’t miss a beat with the dialogue and the composing by REC Sound company broods through the dark scenes. Amongst the technical portions, the bonus features contain trailers of various Artsploitation films, a featurette, and deleted scenes. The flawless picture catches every detail which will surely leave a dastardly seared imprint of immoral wretchedness in the whites of eyes.