"If you kill a whale, you get Greenpeace and Jacques Cousteau on your back. But wipe out sardines and you get a canning subsidy."
A Belgian 1992 Black Comedy Mockumentary
directed by and starring Benoît Poelvoorde, Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel, following a Serial Killer
as he goes about his business.
The original title is C'est arrivé près de chez vous
, which literally translates to It Happened in Your Neighborhood
The film was made on a shoe-string budget and therefore made as cheaply as possible. Everything was filmed in black-and-white and the three directors are also the three main actors. Supporting actors are friends and family members, which only adds to the realism. Despite its financial limitations it became a powerful, sometimes funny, often disturbing satire on television's obsession with real-life violence. The film also became a Cult Classic
This film provides examples of:
- Accidental Murder: During a shoot-out, Benoit kills the sound man by accident.
- Affably Evil: Benoit is thoroughly charming and murderous, bordering on Ax-Crazy. He is very nice to the film crew following him, inviting them to restaurants and helping them finance the movie just after he murders random people.
- Ax-Crazy: Benoit is completely unpredictable. At his birthday party he's ecstatic about trying his presents... and shoots one of the attendees in the head without warning. He then continues enjoying the party like if nothing happened.
- Black Comedy: Mostly in the first half of the film. Then it gets more grimy.
- Black Is Bigger in Bed: After he kills the black night watchman, Benoit decides to check if "that legend" is true. Apparently, it is.
- Bloody Hilarious: Some of the crimes are hilarious.
- Contemplate Our Navels: Benoit enjoys philosophizing about life, even though it's usually a lot of baloney.
- Crapsack World: A documentary crew following a serial killer while he commits his crimes? What have we become?
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Benoît's girlfriend- who plays the clarinet- is killed by an Italian hitman. Benoît finds her nude on the bed with the clarinet stabbed in her behind.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Possibly as a result of the low budget the directors/producers/actors were working with.
- Downer Ending: Let's not spoil it.note
- Found Footage Films: Implied by the ending.
- Fright Deathtrap: Benoit and the filmmakers interview an old lady in her living room when Benoit suddenly shoves his gun to her face and SCREAMS AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS to scare her to death. Which saves him a bullet.
- From Bad to Worse: Benoît's deeds get more reckless and psychopathic as the film marches on, with more people within his private life and vicinity getting murdered.
- Kick the Dog: It happens a lot. Right down to the movie's title.
- Leave the Camera Running: At all times the crew keeps filming, even when things get ugly...
- Magnificent Bastard: In some scenes Benoit comes across as a charming storyteller, in others you realize he is really an Ax-Crazy psychopath, who feels no remorse for his victims.
- Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal: Even when Benoit is jailed his mother still doesn't believe he is a notorious criminal.
- Mockumentary: The film is made in the style of a documentary about the every day life of a serial killer.
- Mood Whiplash: At first Benoît comes across as funny and amusing. Even his murders are committed in a funny fashion. Then the mood starts to change and the crimes he commits become more disturbing...
- Nobody Calls Me Chicken: After he makes his "If you kill a whale" speech, Benoit gets angry when André mentions that he's just scared of going after the big fish, and decides to rob a rich house just to show him.
- One-Hit KO: When he tries boxing, Benoit is beaten with one punch. "He hasn't been working out regularly" indeed.
- Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: Despite every crime Benoit commits the film crew keeps coming back to him and are even invited to join in, which they do without batting an eye.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Benoit regularly makes derogatory comments about blacks, Asians, homosexuals...
"A black night watchman! What a dirty trick! So you can't see him! Who'd ever sink so low? Poor kid, born under the sun! I bet he grew up under the baobabs, and here he is on a work site."
"Let's go sink this Mubutu. But I'm warning you, I won't touch him. AIDS, Remy... AIDS. Green monkeys."
"At least he had no dogs, usually they have a pack of curs. I hate them. Blacks have a way with animals, you know. That's a fact. They know how to talk to them."
- Pragmatic Villainy: Benoit doesn't like to kill children or rich people, and doesn't do kidnappings — not because he has some sort of standard, but because they bring too much attention (and, in the case of children, aren't "bankable").
- Professional Killer: Benoit enjoys sharing his experience with the crew and the audience. It's implied that Benoit makes some of his income this way, although he prefers to get money by ransacking his victims' homes.
- Consequences are incurred when one of his victims turns out to be from a Mob family, who start sending other Professional Killers after Ben.
- Reminiscing About Your Victims: Since it's a documentary, Benoit feels inclined to do so.
- Running Gag: Members of the camera crew keep getting shot and accidentally killed. Benoît disposes his bodies by throwing them in the canal.
- Serial Killer: Benoit.
- Sanity Slippage: Rémy starts losing it after the death of the first crewmember, and it's all downhill from there.
- Satire: The film is a partial satire of media's obsession with violence and even being an accomplice in crimes.
- While eating mussels in a restaurant Benoît quotes from "Le Plat Pays" by Jacques Brel, but adds his own lyrics. This is intercut with a surreal scene where he is filmed walking naked in the dunes at a beach. Then he throws up in the restaurant.
- While murdering a man in his bathroom Benoît compares the way he kills him with a scene he saw in Le Vieux Fusil (1974).
- Snuff Film: In-Universe. If this film were real it would certainly qualify as one...
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Benoît's opinion about black people.
- Villain Protagonist: A serial killer is the protagonist of the film.
- Wicked Cultured: Benoit has pretensions of this; he speaks knowledgeably on such subjects as architecture and classical music, and what he lacks in actual knowledge he makes up in enthusiasm.
- Would Hurt a Child: Benoit doesn't like infanticide, but it's because there's no money to be made with them. When he has to kill one who witnessed his parents' murder, Benoit does it without hesitation and mentions it being the second or third child he's killed in five years.
- You Bastard: You're voluntarily watching a film about a man going around murdering people. What kind of monster does that make you?