BRUTALIZATION is the story of a gang of young, privileged rapists from Belguim who terrorize upper class neighborhoods. One part police drama and one part cinematic justification for the portrayal of unrated sex crimes shortly after the opening credits, let look at this BRUTALIZATION and see if it makes feel all violated and sick inside like a good/bad movie should.
As the film starts an innocent woman is gang raped ahead of her husband by five young offenders each clad in a suit and tie, their identity concealed by black stocking masks. It seems that this sort of thing has been happening with alarming frequencey, and a special police investigator named Van Der Valk has been assigned to the case. If anyone can crack this series of unfortunate assaults, he can. After all, from the moment we meet him, Inspector Van Der Valk proves to be a joyless, meticulous, middle aged family man who still finds time to cavort with his newfound mistress/prostitute between finding clues. If you are wondering (as I did) why the movie saw fit to have the inspector and his prostitute informant become lovers when it absolutely had no effect on the plot whatsoever except to make him look like a less than noble character (when he was. otherwise, actually a stand up guy), let me just say that Belgium must have had a different set of values in the early seventies and, as such, how it is such a shame that such a permissive culture didn’t amount to a better film.
By and by, the inspector ferrets out the truth and he ultimately discovers that a secret society of young anarchists that are responsible for the crimes. Of course due to their power and prestige and often influential fathers, taking them down will be a matter of methodical police work that admittedly doesn’t always translate to something that is exciting to watch happen onscreen. I know the film was made in 1973 but seriously people. Most of the police procedures in this film are so dry and obvious it makes MATLOCK look like JAMES BOND. In addition, the gang of murderous prep school punks, bears more than a passing resemblance to the Manson family with their secretly, counter-culture revolutionary views; drug fueled orgies and blood sacrifices. Of course, that does make for an elaborate eleventh hour act in a film that has very little mystique or intrigue up until that point, but for my money if you absolutely must see a film about the evils of modern social inequity, the power of privilege with all the sexual perversion you will ever need, AMERICAN PSYCHO is so much more amusing than this. Perhaps that was my biggest problem with the flow of the film; the pacing is off, actually the opposite of what you may expect. Normally when detailing the exploits of “outlaws” in a film, the severity of any gang’s crimes usually seem to increase (as well as the level of detail in their depiction of them) as the film progresses which only increases the tension as you, the viewer, want them stopped as soon as possible. In BRUTALIZATION the boys first start out with a vicious gang rape, and then commit vandalism upon an empty ornate house before finally planning “the murder” of one of their own members, a crime which they don’t ultimately have the nerve to carry out themselves. At this current rate of lesser offending, these bored blue blood brats were probably a jaywalking offense from going completely straight by the time they were confronted by the inspector.
One interesting and attractive feature of this film is that it stars a young Sylvia Kristel (of EMANNUELLE FAME) in her first onscreen role as gang lieutenant, Hannie Troost. The scene where she takes care of an informant on behalf of the club (in every way possible) is probably the most erotic drowning sequence I have ever seen since the remake of DIABOLIQUE (1996) where Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani “team up” to remove a common lover from their lives in an incredibly sensual and savage surprise attack. But one scene does not a good movie make and as such, this onscreen BRUTALIZATION was not so much evil and unspeakable in onscreen atrocity as it was predictable in onscreen action. Moreover, if this film were made today in the age of DNA testing and other twenty first century advancements in forensic techniques it would have been over in twenty minutes which is just about the perfect length for an obscure film with a title, premise, and cover art like this.
Extras include a trailer for the film and of course, a fresh faced, twenty one year old Sylvia Kristel. Duh!