Director – Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde
Cast – Benoit Poelvoorde, Jacqueline Poelvoorde-Pappaert, Nelly Pappaert, Hector Pappaert, Jenny Drye, Malou Madou, Willy Vandenbroeck, Rachel Deman
Release Year – 1992
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film I had kept my eye on for quite some time after reading some positive buzz about it. From its plot alone I thought to myself, “was ‘Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon’ a ripoff of this flick?”, and thankfully, Leslie Vernon will not be labeled a copycat by me. While this film is different than “Behind the Mask…” it still offers a nice pseudo-documentary approach to a brash serial killer that fears not to take himself so lightly. Much like the classic “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer”, this film’s horror is not merely what is seen on screen, but the matter at which the horror is being exemplified to the viewer. Interested yet?
“Man Bites Dog” stars Benoit Poelvoorde as Ben(as himself, pseudo-documentary remember?), a man who has drawn the attention of a film crew who seeks to follow his daily activities and watch how he exercises his killing craft. As the crew becomes engulfed in the troubles caused by Ben, their lives take a turn for the worst.
I found this flick to be a real treat to watch. The low-budget feel adds to the gritty nature of the plot while the fact that was filmed in black and white adds to the artistic feel we get as Ben speaks upon the arts of music, poetry, and painting. Right from the get-go I was hooked onto this film thanks to its awesome sense of storytelling a the hands of the charismatic Ben. He brings on a nice sense of humor, which also reminded me of “Behind the Mask…” in that the humor was not silly, but the hearty chuckle-inducing type that I find ever so gratifying.
The horror kicks in when we are abruptly thrown into some brash and quite psychotic murders at the hands of Ben. We do not get much in gore, and I loved that because we are given a sense of horror that is not visual, but psychological. The nature of the killings is what affects the viewer so much. Ben does not discriminate against those he must kill. Age, race, gender, nor social status mean a thing to Ben, none are left out. Personally, I love that type of killer mindset.
This film comes with three directors, Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, and Benoit Poelvoorde himself, and all contribute to a fine job of direction. Many creative tricks using sound and camerawork are thrown at us, which help with this film’s pacing and visual/audio stimulation of the viewer. Each of these three guys contributed to the writing of the screenplay, along with Vincent Tavier, and I can say that in this instance the presence of four screenwriters worked in a positive way. Watching Ben go about his horrific daily activities was perfectly written and executed. The climax to this film has to be one of the most powerful and awe-inducing climaxes I have seen in the horror genre. It is simple, and executed as such, and was a perfect way to end this great film.
My one and only complaint regarding this piece was that it did tend to lose itself at the beginning of the third act. The focus strayed away from Ben and the horror and I honestly felt that that segment should have either been shortened or changed. It was slight pacing issues like this that kept me from giving this an 8-rating. Regardless, this film excels.
Overall, this is a great watch that I recommend to fans of the horror genre who would like to see an original take on the serial-killer sub-genre told in awesome fashion. Be prepared, this film is powerful, and will leave you with images you will not soon forget.