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A Discourse Into Soul Collecting and Demonic Enslavement
cheezburgerz27 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"...and they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks." - Opening quote, Borgman

"My name is Legion, for we are many." - Mark 5:9. (Signs reading "I am" and "we are" in the play towards the end of the movie.)

Camiel Borgman is a greater demon of hell, but not the Antichrist or Lucifer as other reviewers may cite. "Camiel" and "Borgman" is actually his job title, the etymologies of these names elude to the purpose he serves for Lucifer; his real name is given at the beginning of the movie, "Anton", which is believed to be a lie in an attempt to gain admittance to the house. I will discuss the importance of his real name later. The etymology of "Camiel" is 'acolyte', defined as a youth serving in a religious service or procession, and "Borgman" is 'a man who takes toll; a landlord'. So his literal job title based on his name's etymologies is "Acolyte Landlord", or one who collects tolls for another. These 'tolls' are the souls of Anton's victims and the master in question is Lucifer.

Anton's actions and behaviors are most closely aligned with that of such mythical creatures of an alp or incubus. He is seen as a magical being, as noted when Isobel comments on a magician visiting her. Anton's demonic predilections include manipulating dreams, noted by his dream-weaving over Marina while she's asleep, seducing others into slavery-like obedience, noted by Marina's and eventually Richard's change of heart towards Anton, inciting murderous intent, like with Isobel finishing off the gardener with a huge rock slab after Anton gestures towards him with a slight wave, and generally being the catalyst that draws out the '7 Deadly Sins' of Christian immorality in others. Numerous examples of the latter include wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony throughout the movie, especially with the husband, Richard (wrath: beating Anton to a pulp at beginning, greed: trying to take over his friend's company, etc.) At the intersection of all these sins committed by others is Anton, either directly or indirectly influencing their actions, satiating his demonic appetite, and advancing his evil kingdom.

As a greater demon, Anton has enslaved lesser demons who serve him unconditionally and are constantly striving to win his favor. These servants are represented by his two "friends" at the beginning of the movie and the "mother/daughter" pair later on. Case in point: when Anton and the 2 women drive past Ludwig and Pascal, Pascal phones Anton to ask why they fell out of "favor" with him. Later in the movie, his servants put on a play to entertain and honor Anton. Additionally, Anton's 'hounds of hell' are there to usher in his reign, but he chastises them for arriving too soon.

The souls of the children and young babysitter of the family are coveted by Anton, as only children is Anton interested in. This is why, at the beginning of the movie, he chooses the household based on the fact that it has children's toys in the front yard. His minions and he gradually win them over through manipulation and seduction. Once they "drink the Kool-Aid", a sign of ultimate obedience and recognition of demonic sovereignty, the children's backs are branded by the mark of Lucifer (which is shown that Anton also bears) and their souls are culled from the earth, depicted as entering the forest at the end of the movie.

The story of the 'White Child' that Anton narrates to the children is a parable in which Anton is the cripple, "Antonius". The story is of an angel (white child) falling from heaven (above the clouds) and into the depths of hell (the bottom of a deep lake with a terrible beast in it). In the story, Anton volunteers to save the mother's child after all others would not. The villagers wrongly placed their trust in Jesus for the salvation of the child, which Anton chastises them in the narrative, stating, "Jesus is only concerned about Himself". The etymology of "Anton" is 'priceless', so placing one's faith in Anton is synonymous with placing one's faith in something that is priceless, an obvious parallel to two of the '7 Deadly Sins': idolatry and greed. The moral of the story is the same as the moral of the movie: that we should put our faith in Anton, not Jesus. After all, Anton Camiel Borgman is by etymological namesake the Priceless Acolyte Landlord.
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The movie undoubtedly makes one wonder about his/her own inner dark side.
jukkajukka25 May 2014
Borgman is not a vagabond or a homeless, but the evil, the Antichrist itself. He emerges from under the ground with his followers when the local priest and some helpers try to destroy them. They manage to escape and set out on a journey to capture new souls. Borgman is not interested in money or wealth, not interested in seducing women or hurting children. He could get it all if only he wanted to. His only interest is to bring out the evil residing in all humans - men, women, children. He manipulates, sedates or kills people when it is necessary, but it is not a goal, just a tool for him. When he finds a potential follower, he marks him or her with a stigma on their backs. He does a perfect job with an upper-class family turning the family members, the babysitter and her boyfriend against each other, uncovering their worst thoughts and desires. Borgman ends up by capturing new followers, and abandons the beautiful house by cleaning up any traces of his terrible deeds. The movie is surrealistic, full of symbols related to the Bible, and lightened up with lots of spooky humor. It does have a clear plot and a full ending, and undoubtedly makes one wonder about his/her own inner dark side.
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Metaphysical absurdism in a grippingly tense film
bartverberne1614 November 2013
'Borgman' tells the story of a drifter (Jan Bijvoet) that slowly but suddenly takes control of the lives of a young, wealthy family living in a beautiful mansion somewhere in the Netherlands. The movie begins with a scene in a forest, where Borgman, i.e. the drifter, and some of his associates are chased from their underground hiding places by a group of holy workers (lead by the-always-inspiring Pierre Bokma). Soon after their escape, Borgman alone seemingly randomly knocks on the doors of the houses of very wealthy people, asking if he can use bathing facilities in their house. In attempt to do good after a brutal beating by her husband (Jeroen Perceval), Marina (Hadewijch Minis) helps Borgman by giving him temporary shelter in the garden shed. That was all that the intimidating but darkly intriguing character of Borgman needed to unfold his diabolical plans...

Although Borgman is a layered surrealistic film, and probably therefore sometimes slow and hard to understand, its message is clear and the story is continuously compelling. Especially intriguing are the biblical aspects, which are always subtly present in the background, and which give the film a dark, tense character. Not being a religious person, the movie does trigger an interest in the spiritual, or better, meta-ethics, which won't leave you alone for several days afyer having watched it. The excellent performances of Jan Bijvoet and Hadewijch Minis are crucial in delivering the very strong script.

I highly recommend this film to anyone who seeks a tense thriller. Because, aside from the absurdist aspects, from start to the end the movie is very exciting.

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A glass half full and half empty.
Kingkitsch26 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Who equates horror with the Netherlands? Windmills, tulips, cocoa, and Hans Brinker all come to mind but none of these things are cause for alarm. Director Alex van Warmerdam evidently wants to change your mind about Dutch stereotypes with "Borgman".

This is one strange film. Who, or more importantly, what is Borgman? In the opening scenes, we follow a group of locals including a gun- toting priest, roust Borgman from his underground home in a forest. No explanation is given about why a mob is after this person, yet the inclusion of the priest hints that Mr. B. might be something other than human. Mr. B. alerts a few other underground dwellers that the jig is up and runs away. Mr. B. wanders onto the property of an evidently well-to-do couple in a boxlike house, asks to take a bath and when turned away by the man of the house, Mr. B. insinuates he "knows" the wife. A beating commences and Mr. B finally gets the attention of the wife who is feeling guilty over her husband's violence.

So far, so good. Borgman worms his way into the lives of the family he's "adopted", aided and abetted by the wife who appears to be drawn to this dirty homeless man. The wife keeps her new friend out of the sight of her husband and bad things happen. About halfway through this unsettling story, all the tension and suspense is allowed to spiral out into surreal episodes that eventually become numbing. Borgman has friends. We don't know who or what they are. Two women might be able to become dogs. The family's gardener and his wife are destroyed in the film's most unpleasant scene, allowing Borgman to take the gardener's place. Shorn of his beard, he goes unrecognized. Scant reason for everything that happens during the second half of the film is where the story fails. It becomes boring. Since we cannot penetrate the motivations of the lead character or his allies, it's difficult to care what happens to whom. The director tightens the noose for an hour and then it all goes slack.

The are some memorable visuals here, especially the bodies in the water. Many questions are asked of the viewer, but no resolution or answers are given to reward your attention. The ending is both abrupt and frustrating. One suspects that the director and screenplay refused to give any easy answers, leaving the viewer to either think this is one amazing metaphysical satire. Or maybe you just got your head messed with for two hours and ended up with a headache trying to figure out what wasn't there to begin with. Five stars for the performance of Jan Bijvoet as the title character and the aforementioned visuals. Now, about those dogs...
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On the darker side of Dutch cinema
JPfanatic9328 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Alex van Warmerdam's darkest and most disturbing film to date is also his best, perfectly balancing black humour and psychological terror. After having been rooted out of their carefully hidden underground lairs, a group of strange vagabonds led by the calculating and enigmatic Camiel Borgman (fabulous performance by Flemish actor Jan Bijvoet) slowly but surely infiltrates the life of a well-to-do family. The titular character himself manipulates his way into the house of a rich but bored married couple (Jeroen Perceval and Hadewych Minis) by getting himself brutally beaten up by the husband, after which the wife, driven by both guilt and curiosity, secretly invites him into their lives. The stranger's mystique grabs hold of her more and more, until she begs him to stay when he tells her he is leaving. After that moment, there is no turning back for the family, as Borgman and his co-conspirators stop at nothing to take over, with deadly consequences. The result is an hallucinatory film that holds the middle between being an absurd comedy and a nightmarish horror movie about the seemingly familiar but ultimately inexplicable 'Other' permeating everyday life completely until it has utterly changed into something else entirely. It's 'them' versus 'us', the unknown world outside corrupting the familiar surroundings inside, but which side we are (supposed to be) on is never clear: do we go with this bizarre revolution of the dispossessed have-nots against the haves, or will we choose the side that lives a safe but dull life of complacent banality and conservative conformity? Bijvoet's Borgman is a cold and unfathomable force of nature, a subtle instigator of change who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal, though it's never clear just what his aim is. Opening with a citation we are to assume is Biblical – '…and they came down to Earth to replenish their ranks', which in the end is exactly what has transpired – the film suggests Borgman and his minions (which includes Van Warmerdam himself in a supporting performance) may be something other than human. You might even be inclined to think they may not even be there at all, existing only as cruel manifestations of the wife's psychological angst, but they are also destructively active outside of her direct environment as well. It's this surreal confusion about the protagonist's goals and existential status, combined with outrageous but thoroughly hilarious instances of dark humour and sombre witticisms that make Borgman an unusual but intriguing horror story, not to mention one of the finest Dutch films in many years.
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An incredible, surreal, funny allegory for social upheaval
outdoorcats10 November 2013
One of the best films of the Philadelphia Film Festival, Borgman is a hilarious, darkly satirical, mysterious, sexy, fascinating, and surreal allegory for social upheaval.

In the beginning, there was armed men looking to kill underground hobos. We will never find out why they want to kill them or why the hobos are underground (or why the hobos have nice cellphones). One of them, Camiel Borgman, escapes and warns his friends. He washes himself at a gas station and begins wandering down an extremely affluent street with the intention of getting a proper bath in one of them, simply by asking at the front door. One house in particular strikes his fancy, and he begins a slow process of worming his way into the household and the lives of everyone who lives there.

But that's when things get REALLY strange.

This film is destined for hopefully a good deal of international attention in the art-house circuit due to its exceptional storytelling, unpredictability and very weird plot.

With the matter-of-fact way it presents absurd goings-on, it reminded me of Dogtooth a little.
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Dark and twisted film that defies explanation
brchthethird14 November 2014
Weird and unnerving are a couple words which accurately describe the experience that is watching this film. What the film means is anyone's guess, and nothing is really spelled out or explained. This actually is a good thing, though, because the viewer can take away from it what they want. The story is about a vagrant named Borgman who insinuates himself into this affluent family's home and slowly makes life a living hell for them. The overall tone of the film is one of unease, mystery and black humor, peppered with a shock every now and then. There are several scenes which may stick with you long after finishing it, and there are a few that are still with me now. Comparing this to anything else is futile, except that if you like weird, disturbing movies (like I do), then you will probably love this. From a quality standpoint, everything is well-shot and all of the actors, including the children, give good performances as far as I can tell (Dutch isn't a language I speak). The tone of the film is also set very well by the score, which is off-kilter and dissonant. Since it is best to go into this film with as little information as possible, I'll end here. Suffice it to say, if you're brave enough to give this a try, you might end up liking it as I did.
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Ultimately disappointing
avzwam17 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Technically, Borgman is very well made. It's very well shot, the acting is great and the film for a long time really induced discomfort. It had me going "Where is this going? What is going on? Why is this happening? What does this mean?". But at a certain point the film just fizzles out.

It builds and builds but instead of there being a climax there's just...nothing really. Just a strange, depressing ending. I didn't like how it ended as the film promises so much yet doesn't deliver. Not in my opinion anyway.

A film needs to have a proper ending which has an impact because of what went before. Where things add up to something. It's like a song where after the last note you go "Wow, that was a good song.". The ending of Borgman just left me depressed and thinking there wasn't any real point to the film.

There's so much so well executed in this film. Alex van Warmerdam really knows how to direct, how to create a mood, how to shoot something and yet there's something lacking here as I haven't got the slightest clue as to what to make of it all. And that's a shame as, as I said there's a lot in this picture that's good.

It's like the script was 75% done when they started shooting. It's like it tells you it's got something interesting to say and subsequently keeps its mouth shut.

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Very well made
TuesdayThe17th19 November 2014
This film seemed to come out of nowhere, similar to the way Camille Borgman did. I am a long time fan of the horror/dark drama genre but a new member to IMDb. with that being said, I absolutely loved this film. I loved the darkness to Camille. What was with him living in the ground though? The movie never fell back on that fact nor did it have an explanation for it. I wouldn't say the viewing nature of this film is horror, but the concepts that the film holds are horror. The ideas are extremely dark and the violence is extreme. This is an atmospheric movie that sets quite the mood. It had me thinking about it for a few days after seeing it. It's one of the better movies I've seen this past year
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A dark and at the same time irresistible funny movie about them and us, inside and outside.
album-219 August 2013
This is a dark and at the same time irresistible funny movie about them and us, inside and outside, reality versus imagination. It's about somewhat strangely organized hobo's who are invading a posh house and taking over a family. It's a great, great movie, with a pitch perfect production and a deeply disturbing - and therefore significant and meaningful - message. Every viewer will make up his own story about what takes place in the house that is at the central stage, and in the dark woods that surround it, but in the end it's like a Rembrandt: deep and dark with some light touches that make you laugh and remember what art and humanity are all about: to overcome fear.What's extremely good about this movie is that it will make your film brain spin: what's going to happen next?
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Highly Symbolic
beste-iris10 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not sure if this review will contain 'real' spoilers. It will contain a possible insight that I didn't think of beforehand. But it's something I feel is essential to talk about while reviewing this work of art.

Don't get me wrong, I won't really 'spoiler'. It will just add my personal perspective which you normally only develop slowly in a huge ride of confusion, but hearing of this beforehand might actually help you to 'feel' the movie better. It won't make the movie much more 'concrete', it will still be a ride of confusion, your own little puzzle, because it's meant that way. This here is just my personal insight, essential for this review, yet it is up to yourself to decide if you want to read this.


I visited this movie not knowing what to expect at all. I had always been intrigued by Warmerdam's earlier work. The lovely collage of characters he always paints for us. Their quirks, their failures, their personal mistakes, their confrontations and egos. The dark and harsh realism of the characters and their lives is deeply compelling to me. Soon I found that I missed this in Borgman. I didn't know why, but the characters seemed disconnected, outlandish with dialogs of grotesque and epic stature. I felt I was watching a bad play in which nothing really connected. In retrospect this makes sense, yet it still irks me in some way. The disconnection seems a little too forced for my liking, making the already bizarre world and setting of the movie a suddenly distant whisper instead of a compelling yet confusing conversation.

But that is about the only problem I had. This disconnection serves a purpose.

This movie is highly symbolical. I never analyze movies in a dramatic way, yet this one at first made me feel I did. I thought I was maybe taking it too far, but in the end I really don't think so.

What are we watching? You'll probably wonder about this right until the end. There really is no moral judgment on what happens here and that will leave you in a state of confusion. You may think there is, but think again afterward.

This is a case of good versus evil. About religion, about demons, about hate, about the devil, about tainted souls. Good versus evil can be interpreted in many ways of course. As for me, the movie made me interpret this in a very folkloric Christian way. The movie even starts of with a priest aggressively chasing after our main character. That is the bluntest statement in the movie, and it even opens up with it. It doesn't end there though. Not forcibly, but this time more subtle the movie hints us towards religious statements, comparisons, reminders, and folkloric tales of nightmare and death.

This family we see. Are they good? They are rich, seem the perfect family, they're successful in many ways. But are they really? Then Borgman comes along, the vagrant. Dirty, hunted down. He psychology messes with the family's life. Is he evil?

I ask these questions because in retrospect it is hard to feel bad for this family. It is hard to not laugh at what Borgman does to them. We laugh as if it's all a bad play. We feel disconnected from them. If we really feel Borgman is evil, than why do we laugh at his victims demise? Why aren't we horrified?

The dialog which I mentioned earlier certainly serves as a tool to further develop a disconnection between us and the family. It also serves as a symbolic reminder of what is really going on here, and in it's grotesqueness it's also a reminder of the biblical proportions of the subject good versus evil.

I certainly love how Warmerdam seems to play with symbols here. How he hints and teases, but never really plainly reveals. How he tries to influence our minds to connect to characters a certain way.

In the end, I do not know what was good and what was evil. Maybe this whole movie was about making the world a less corrupted place, albeit in a very unconventional way. But then again, maybe this is simply about evil feeding of us and dragging us in, harvesting the mistakes we make in our lives, feeding of the hatred we feel in our hearts and towards each other.

But can we really say who was good or evil here? This movie will make you feel you know what happened, but did you really? Will you also remember how you laughed at the most horrible moments and how you felt disconnected at the better times? Is this family really any good? Do you even like them at all? Maybe they are the most corrupted characters in this whole movie?

This movie will make you think and think, over and over again. I highly admire Warmerdam's ability to play on us and make us react in the exact opposite way we normally would. We are being played here. We are being served our own mental dilemma.
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An INCREDIBLE piece! of s**t
rubenklaphake11 September 2015
I, as a Dutch person am completely devastated that our country was capable of making this 'pile of junk' (putting it lightly). Many viewers are with me (seeing the comments), that it has an exciting build-up and makes the viewer want to see more in the beginning. All of the sudden all kinds of crazy 'events' keep happening and you think you are in for a thrilling movie. But no, Nothing happens. I've had moments when watching some movies seemed like it was a waste of time, but this one takes the cake.

If I remember correctly the script writer of this movie said that the plot wasn't meant to be logical or anything. It was just art. Well mr. moviemaker, you failed.

If you hated Sharknado, Butterfly Effect 2, Dumb and Dumber to, you name it what is considered questionable or horrific.... Do yourself a favor. This is not great Cinema what other users are trying to convince you of.

Art belongs in the museum. This is Dutch over-subsidized 'look at me im quasi smart' garbage. I am dead ******* serious.
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Pleasantly Disturbing
Bar_N2 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I'm still not quite sure what the film is trying to say, what it is about, it does seem like it is saying something, but in a way that is only logical within the film itself. If that makes any sense. It's a dark film about some people taking over some other people without getting to know why. It all happens in a designer house and a large garden surrounded by nature, forest. The further you go along in this puzzle (which tends to be quite slow in the first half and more paced in the second half), the more you understand what's going on but only cause you see a plan being revealed but still not knowing really what the goal is, or the meaning. It never get's explained fully but this tension is what keeps you watching it. At times brutal, funny and reflective upon society towards certain members who are let's say, not so fortunate vs the fortunate. In a way, it's payback time to those who have it all and don't know what they've got. Not sure that covers it all. At the end of the film I did feel a sense of conclusion and awe of it all, not knowing exactly what I just saw, just knowing I liked being played for the duration of this work. Would like to see it again.
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Meaningless at all points
eclighib30 October 2014
One of the most meaningless movies I have ever seen in my life! Lots of people who are not talented at all in any 'art field', lets say, would admire, and say 'wow, what a great movie' just because they don't understand it, where the truth is this movie is simply waste of time.. Good movie is the one which makes you think or feel something; giving you a perspective of how would one feel in another man's shoes; giving an option of being a judge or a victim, and all that as a plane thought experiment. This movie fail to do any of these things. Conversations are completely disconnected, shallow and there is no point in it at all. Strange doesn't mean remarkable, it means something that has been said or done differently apart from socially acceptable rules, but still with some sense and hidden meaning which makes you think and ask questions you didn't ask before. This movie is not strange whatsoever but it feels like somebody had a great idea but didn't really know how to communicate it and end it.
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Vomit on Film
fosterlb16 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is the BIGGEST letdown of all time! It's like I ate some abstract art and couldn't digest it. So I puked it out and was forced to look at it and interpret it for two hours. Any symbolism is lost when the viewer is subjected to the randomness and illogic of the players. Why have such convoluted scheming to accomplish a simplistic goal. If the Borgman and his minions are demonic, as one reviewer notes, then why poison the gardener and his wife? Just kill the gardener straight out. There weren't any witnesses anyway. Also why kill the wandering applicant? The minions were paying off fake applicants anyway. Couldn't they just pay the wanderer off? Of course if they did that, the evil little girl (how did that happen anyway?) wouldn't have the opportunity to bash in the stranger's head. Really? That was out of nowhere. And while I'm at it, what is with the back surgeries on the children? I'm assuming that's what turned them into evil, unfeeling wack jobs. And yes, I noticed that the minions and Borgman had the same scars on their backs. So what? Are the kids and the nanny the next generation of minions whose duty is to commit senseless violence, achieve no goal, and disappear? Or if this is a psychotic break experienced by the wife, why no resolution when she died? Bottom line is that this movie was awful! There are so many good stories that aren't told because production money is wasted on this type of drivel. If the viewer must try so very hard to construct a story from random and convoluted imagery, then there really is no story at all. Just some crap stuck together after smoking a lot of weed. This movie is dung. Avoid it at all costs! You'll thank me later.
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Messed up demon tale/supernatural thriller
Defnie21 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I don't quite know what to make of this. Going by the summary and all the media attention it's gotten in the Netherlands (and I assume Belgium), I expected this to be just a regular, decent thriller. But it's not. This is not a fun thriller for a night on the couch. I agree with the reviewer above me that this movie is severely messed up, and that you're not doing yourself a favor by watching this unless you want to see something messed up. (Apparently this site won't let you use the F-word) 'Nightmare' is definitely the word that comes to mind if I had to describe my experience of this movie in one word.

If you haven't seen this movie yet and you're still planning on it, let me save you a lot of confusion by saying this: this movie is about demons, or at least demonic/evil supernatural creatures of some kind, in human form. Trust me, if you don't know this, this movie makes NO sense. This little piece of vital information was not clear to me and my boyfriend when we watched it, so we were extremely confused and freaked out by all the horrifying things the 'people' did. Not much is done to make it clear to the audience they're anything other than very strange people, apart from a Biblical quote at the beginning: 'and they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks'. After that we see a couple of priests hunt down the Demon People from holes in the forest. But as they seemed like just a group of regular tramps, without any clue there was anything supernatural about them whatsoever, I didn't put one and two together. You can imagine our confusion when the Demon People randomly started intruding the life of a family, conspiring and killing without any apparent reason. It was only when I started searching on the internet after wards that I understood what I had been watching. This is not a psychological thriller, it's a supernatural thriller. Knowing this I appreciate the movie better, but at the time of watching I didn't enjoy it AT ALL. It was one long bad trip and pretty much the weirdest shi t I ever saw.

So, in conclusion: watch this if you like shady supernatural thrillers or if you want to be weirded out good. Also prepare for a lot of sick, sadistic humor.

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An Unidentified Filmed Object
searchanddestroy-122 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Long after the watching, I kept asking me: "What the hell is this?..." Why, Why, why?....

Why do those people intend to kill a peaceful ordinary couple of law abiding citizens who live in the suburbs? And why not simply not kill them in the most natural and simple way? Why impersonating gardeners to do this? And what is the meaning of the theatre in this same garden?

And who are those guys sleeping underground, in the forest?

All along the watching, you never stop asking questions to yourself.

And after the film, you still have NO ANSWER.

But I ADORE that. It's absolutely jubilating.

And if you watched only this kind of features, you would certainly become nuts.

Go, run to see it !!!!
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Dark, funny and beautiful
sanderbruggeman21 October 2013
I will try not to give too much away and just describe the general tone of this movie. Which is the best part: the dark, slightly uncomfortable tone is set from the moment of first contact between Marina and Camiel. Some people will probably say that it's too weird or creepy, but I don't share this opinion. It has some totally weird moments, but all those moments are funny at the same time.

The perfect mixture of beautiful camera shots, dark moments and also a lot of humor makes this my favorite Alex van Warmerdam movie. And probably one of my favorite Dutch movies of all times (which is not thát hard considering the quality of the average Dutch movie, but still)!
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Excellent viewing for those who appreciate originality
rbuffinga7 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I've often seen film reviews by people who apparently "didn't get it" and sometimes admit they didn't. This film, however, is not really difficult to follow, which makes the reviews by people who confess they didn't get it quite surprising. That Borgman is not human is clear before the film starts, when the viewer is told "…and they came down to Earth to replenish their ranks". No spoiler alert necessary here. (There are other signs later on, which I shall not disclose here.) The purpose of Borgman's interaction with the rich family is therefore not difficult to understand. That is not to say that everything Borgman and his 'people' do is logical to us, but to them everything they do no doubt makes sense. The director just chose to show – and not explain – events.

The film is not a fast-paced action movie, but it's not a slow-paced art house movie either. It has its own rhythm and never gets boring, in part because of its originality, in part because its totally unpredictable (but never in a contrived way). There are warnings in the reviews about "a lot of sick, sadistic humour" and how this film "is not a thriller but a very very sad and deeply disturbing horror film". Those who like an authentic movie experience, but shy away from violence and sadism, don't worry: the violence is mild compared to countless Hollywood productions. (And to those looking for a scary or gory movie: don't bother). Finally, one reviewer took exception to the blasphemy in the movie: unless I missed something, there was just one blasphemous remark, and a rather tame one at that.

Oh, one more thing: can we all agree not to use the phrase "Nearly two hours of my life that I'll never get back..." ever again in an IMDb review? Thank you.
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Resistance is Futile
robinski3421 June 2014
Borgman is queer piece of cinema, challenging right form the off with the opening scenes of pursuit which point in a certain direction, but be prepared for your feelings to change as the story progresses. Writer / director Alex van Warmerdam's film bars very few holds, and yet it does not sensationalise increasingly troubling and occasionally brutal events, presenting them in a frank and open way, inviting the viewer to judge the participants and their respective fates. You would do well to prepare yourself to feel little sympathy for any of the characters, and yet there is something compelling about the spartan direction and the economy of the performances that will hold your attention to the end. Jan Bijvoet as the titular Camiel Borgman and Hadewych Minis as Marina are stand-outs, and deserve to be seen by a wider audience. One possible conclusion is that Warmerdam's script presents a black-and-white position in reaching a verdict, but in reality there are Lynchian levels of grey and plenty of scope for interpretation over a glass of wine (or two) afterwards. Well worth seeking out for those of a less delicate sensibility.
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Brilliant but awkward
ron-van-wieringen8 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Alex van Warmerdam took a great risk with this movie. We are already used to the fact that Van Warmerdam breaks traditional rules of storytelling and dialogue, but in this movie he also breaks patterns that his own fans thought they knew from him. The result is a film that is incomprehensible in more than one way. Usually, if some important characters (a vicar with a loaded gun, for instance) are introduced in the first scene, they return later. In this movie they don't. Usually, if a few famous names are hired (Ariane Schluter, Pierre Bokma, Eva van de Wijdeven, Annet Malherbe) they are given the larger roles. In this movie they aren't. Usually, if strange and disturbing things happen (dogs enter the house, people get murdered) it will be explained. But not in this movie. Usually there is at least one character who is sympathetic, strong, smart. Usually if there's a bad guy terrorising a family, there also is a good guy to defend them. Usually if a group of evil characters takes over someone's house, they don't abandon it in the final scene. Usually if someone gets punished, sooner or later the reason will be explained.

Even die-hard Van Warmerdam fans will have trouble understanding this movie. Fans are used to seeing strange families who are having trouble understanding the world. Borgman shows a totally normal family that is terrorized by some evil people. And we never get to know why. So at the end of the day, nothing about this film is normal. In the end, Van Warmerdam leaves us with an unfinished jigsaw-puzzle. Unfinished? Hell, I think I'm missing half of the pieces!

I have thought about a verdict for some time, but in the end I think it's simply brilliant that Van Warmerdam breaks with all the rules including the rules that he himself introduced into Dutch filmmaking.
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Really bad!
peter-carlsson-976-77911326 January 2014
Started up as an interesting movie. Became more and more strange. Suddenly no one was reacting to anything in a normal way Story became even more strange, then even boring. I really hoped things would catch on an became interesting again. It didn't. Suddenly it became even more strange without any explanation. Then it was over, the movie finished This movie seems to use the strangeness as a driving force for the story. It didn't work either. Actors? Hmm, uninteresting too. Why would any woman be turned on by the main character? I tried to see some redeeming qualities in this movie, Didn't find any. A movie is not good just because it's strange.
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Alien invasion fable reflects European social upset and terrorist threat
maurice_yacowar5 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
As Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) expressed the dread of Communism turning Western individualists vegetable, the Dutch film Borgman captures the current fear of an insidious invasion by terrorists. Here the terrorist is an outside evil bent upon overthrowing the normal order (domestic here standing in for political) who has no qualms about killing but whose real aim is to increase his power by seducing more adherents. Their first appearance, sleeping in holes under the forest, makes them sleeping cells in a rich complacency.

The film is extremely unsettling, from the opening bark of the German shepherd (dog) to the periodic atonal assaults. The horror of a family's subtle invasion is amplified by Marina's nightmares woven indiscernibly into the narrative. Yet the film carefully denies any racial identification for the threat. The only racial elements are Richard lying to reject a black gardener and Camiel Borgman's playful rejection of Jesus in his rather unsettling bedtime story that transfixes the children, about "a little white girl" who's digested by a beast and whose mother begs she be regurgitated for burial. Borgman is otherwise an abstemious figure who denies Marina sex and stiffly adheres to the tasks he has undertaken. In Europe today, of course, especially in Holland and Scandinavia, there is a growing fear of the traditional culture being overwhelmed by radical Islam. The theme of invasion is even more disturbing than those sound effects. Camiel, of course, could be Khamil as readily as Camille.

In the film's key scene the shaken Marina tells husband Richard that she feels a threatening dark shell closing in on them because they are too secure, too affluent. That represents the peak and the nadir of capitalism. That conscience makes her vulnerable to the needy Borgman when he appears on her doorstep, first asking to have a bath, then seeking her sympathy to nurse the wounds from Richard's assault. The family's affluence and modernity turn them into the Western civilization that the hungry, marginalized and more ascetic society comes to disdain, hate (though they enjoy the TV) and to destroy.

Marina's vulnerable virtue is imaged in her voluptuousness and appetite for life. Her fulsome breasts remind us of her maternal nature that, notwithstanding all her love and care, by modern convention she has farmed out to the thin nanny Stine. Marina is also an artist, making extravagantly gestural abstract paintings quite in contrast to the tightness in her domestic life. That Borgman's effect turns into explosions. She is too fleshy and feeling a partner for Richard, whose thinness and tightness rather resemble the shaven Borgman when he returns to be their gardener. But like her lavish, sleek house and furnishings, Marina's art is meaningless and emotionless. Her art is empty gesture.

Borgman first tests the charity of a large traditional estate, which brusquely denies him. But at the plush and more isolated modernist house he doesn't accept his initial rejection. He claims Marina nursed him in a hospital, a lie which proves prophetic when he does seduce her into nursing his wounds and granting him food and shelter. The preternatural stranger seems to sense the moral vulnerability of the modernist, unsupported by the old abandoned traditions in values as in architecture.

Borgman takes a mysterious hold on the innocent, especially the three children,. So, too, his henchman Pascal seduces Stine when her soldier boyfriend is visiting for dinner. Borgman's hold on Isolde is especially striking when she calmly kills the man she found in the forest, a rival gardener. With this power Borgman controls mysterious dogs -- and can use his cell phone underground! When their mental control is confirmed by Ludwig's implants, the mystery evokes the spread of jihadism into affluent Western societies. In a Hitchcockian flourish, screenwriter/director Alex van Warmerdam himself plays the older surgeon Ludwig who takes physical control over his actor recruits.

Like Ludwig, Borgman's other henchmen — the fake doctor Brenda, the strong-armed ballerina — prefer murder over seduction when they despatch the gardner and his wife, the family doctor, and ultimately Richard and even Marina. Their upset of the natural order is imaged in their burying their first corpses in the water head down in concrete. More frightening than their murders are their conversions, as they add nanny Stine and the three children — who don't question their parents' sudden disappearance — to their ominous cabal. As the troupe moves on, the elegant modern estate has been reduced to a blighted bunker, stripped of life, colour, beauty, modernism reduced to lifelessness.

The troupe's evening performance shows two comical figures leading on (or flaying) a shrouded figure. The climax is the signs "I am" and "We are," which proceed from solitary self-interest to an acknowledgment of collective responsibility. While that coheres with the fear of terrorism, it also opens into a wider theme, the breakdown of the social contract in Holland and the Scandinavian countries. So the hunted, revolting and ultimately in revolt characters are the Other in a broader social context: the poor, the marginalized, the hopeless, here driven underground and flushed out to our danger.

Curiously, the film opens with two sinister thugs and a priest gathering with metal spikes to hunt down the mysterious figures living rough in underground holes. We don't see the three again. The first man seems especially brutish, with his pike, dog, and pickled herring breakfast, so his partnering with the priest after mass is itself unsettling. As we look back on their scene, they are vigilantes but they may be justified by the enormous danger they have discovered. In their assault on Borgman's refuge the anti-terrorist civilization may seem as brutal as the terrorist. When they disappear the film leaves behind all our familiar moral and social bearings. We turn fascinated to Borgman's manipulations and the helplessness of the innocence over which he has taken command.
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Very dark but you will laugh!!
Alexcailliau29 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see the film without knowing anything about it. I had seen the trailer a couple of times and the images were intriguing, sometimes very strong in what the depicted. But I couldn't make out any sort of plot. The beginning of the movie is totally surreal... a trio of men lead by a priest are going hunting for Borgman, an homeless guy leaving in a self-made underground cave in the woods... Being chased, he escapes and at some point rings a doorbell to ask if he can take a bath. The man who answers gets into an argument with Borgman after he mentioned the man's wife... Borgman got beaten.. seems to disappear but actually remains around the house. The man's wife accepts (out of guilt maybe) to secretly host Bergman for a couple of days so he can heal from the contusions he received... I wont say more about the whole story... What you need to know is that this is a dark thriller which is disguised in a sort of humour noir drama. Borgman is a cold human being who only wants to serve himself. And yet, you'll be laughing or smiling quite often while watching. In a sense the atmosphere of the film reminded me a lot of cult Belgian film "C'est Arrivé Près de Chez Vous" (Man Bites Dog in English) which is a movie I cherished in my teen years. While watching Borgman, you'll keep wondering what will happen next, and when getting out of the cinema, you'll find out that you still have many questions unanswered... without feeling any frustration about it! Great film! I hope that it's native language won't prevent it to be successful worldwide!
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Absurd motives in a realistic setting
BuildDiscipline27 October 2013
I just left the Eye cinema in Amsterdam in dubious, yet better mood than I came in. Borgman managed to touch a part of my passion for film that has rarely been touched before. The atmosphere of this film reminded me of Mikkelsen's 'Jagten'.

What I believe is great about Borgman is that the settings are all realistic, but the motives of the characters are perfectly absurd. That made it nearly impossible to predict what was going to happen and kept me deeply involved throughout the story.

There is a lot of humor hidden behind the sadism in this film. This makes the film a bit less heavy to watch and I guess that's what makes it more appealing to a lot of people. In my opinion, Borgman would have been a great success with or without the exaggerated sadism.

It's the absurd behaviors and realistic way that they are portrayed that carry this film.
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