Actors: Jan Bijvoet, Hadewych Minis, Jeroen Perceval
Director: Alex van Warmerdam
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: NEW VIDEO GROUP
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Run Time: 113 minutes
Dutch Filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam is no stranger to dark fables, having made his own bizarre twist on “Hansel & Gretel” with 2003’s Grimm. From the opening sequence which has a priest arming himself with a shotgun and large spear to hunt a group of men dwelling in underground structures, it is clear that Warmerdam’s Borgman exists in a similarly fantastical world. It is more horror film than fable, but the whimsical presentation inspires terror and dread more than providing scares or gore.
The title character, Camiel Borgman (Jan Bijovet), is one of the men dwelling underground, and seemed to be the priest’s main concern. Though he at first appears to merely be a vagrant, Borgman quickly shows himself to be something far more deadly and inexplicable. After approaching several other homes, he sets his targets on an upper-class family and aggressively manipulates his way into their lives. Once inside, he shows even more of a malevolent purpose, combined with subtle supernatural abilities that include the manipulation of dreams. It seems no coincidence that it was a priest hunting him in the woods.
Much of Warmerdam’s narrative is left purposefully ambiguous, though it is not difficult to read between the lines in discovering the true meaning. Details such as Borgman’s true form or his ultimate goal are nearly irrelevant in the dream-like home invasion narrative that Warmerdam has created. It is somewhat of a cross between Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and any number of demonic horror films (Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, The Devil’s Advocate, etc.), with just a twist of whimsy.
The Blu-ray release of Borgman comes with a 28-page booklet with cast/crew interviews and photos, as well as a digital copy of the film. On the actual disc are a handful of deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. The film itself is extremely cinematic, which I am certain was enhanced by the high definition presentation.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8.5/10
Historical Significance: 7/10