Borgman ★★★★½

“And they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks.”

With the utmost confidence and command, Alex van Warmerdam's Borgman opening scene sunk its hooks in deep and refused to let me go for the remainder of its running time. A Priest and a lynch mob of sorts hunt down a nest of (literal) underground vagrants and send them scampering for safety out of the woods and into palatial suburbia, and from this dizzying and disorienting (and one of the most exhilarating cinematic moments I have experienced of late) set-piece we are flung into the world of the sly and seductive Camiel Borgman.

A film that would seemingly fall into the expanding 'home invasion' subgenre of cinema, Borgman eschews categorization and becomes an entirely different beast that is at times unpredictably absurd and at others quite surreal as our titular protagonist invades and infects a wealthy household by gaining the affection of a bored housewife and entangles everyone in a sticky web as he slowly enacts his master-plan to separate the weeds (the detestable and entitled upper class parental figures) from the chaff (the innocent and untainted children). Warmerdam cleverly dangles a carrot in front of the audience for the entire film, feeding us with just enough tiny clues without ever stripping out the ambiguity that makes it as ultimately effective as it is.

SPOILERS
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We have a family living in a symbolic Eden, and we are witnessing the an allegorical casting out of the elitist upper crust as dished out by fallen angels, led by Camiel (From Wikipedia:''Camael (Latin Camael), Means one who sees God. (also known as Kamuel, Chamuel, Camiel, Camniel) is an angel in Christian mythology and angelology, and is often included in lists as being one of the seven archangels. He is claimed to be the leader of the forces that expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden holding a flaming sword. Camael is not recognised by the Catholic Church due to the Vatican's decision to ban the veneration of angels not mentioned in the Bible.'') and as mentioned in the bible verse quoted at the top of my review, is building a minion of followers on earth (much like Nephilim of the Old Testament: ''Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.'') by marking (the strange operation that is being performed on the children and nanny to make them compliant and leaving a scar on their back in the process) and recruiting them into the ranks on Earth. The children are chosen because of their innocence and undeveloped prejudice against their fellow man, whereas the parents have a detestable elitist one percent mindset ( “We’re from the West; it’s affluent. That’s not our fault.”) that close their door on the lower class as well as those are not of the same race. It's interesting to note that a Catholic Priest is hunting Borgman at the beginning of the film also which would suggest that he has either been stirring up the Religious elite, or has at least made his presence known.
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END SPOILERS

This is a wonderfully crafted thriller with stellar performances and an aesthetic that brings to mind Lanthimos Dogtooth and Haneke's Funny Games. The allegory and symbolism within is a potent brew that begs for much interpretation and analysis whilst still managing to be ambiguous enough to keep it rattling about in the skull. I was genuinely surprised by the films inventiveness, unnerving tone and macabre sense of humour and cannot recommend it highly enough to those who crave a slice of original pie.

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