“Once I buried two Arabs in a wall over there… Facing Mecca, of course.” – Benoit Poelvoorde
The serial killer we follow (Benoit Poelvoorde, aka. Ben) in Man Bites Dog isn’t our everyday normal serial killer, he is a very funny and at moments, a light hearted fellow. One word that describes the movie well is ‘bizarre’, because it truly is. The movie will quickly shoot from Ben joking around, to him suffocating a child with a pillow. Some people see it as a black comedy, but there is much more here than just jokes.
The plot in Man Bites Dog is as simple as you will get, we (us the viewers) follow Ben, a man who kills people for a living and also for pleasure. Rémy and André are filming Ben, and that’s the view point we get, so before you ask, yes, it’s a ‘found footage’ type of film. But the film doesn’t ever use camera tricks that found footage movies now would, instead, it focuses on the most important person which is Ben. At first Rémy and André are just shooting what Ben does, but as the film goes on, the line between shooting what he is doing and actually helping him in his killings becomes blurred.
The actual film makers who are Rémy Belvaux and André Bonzel (who play themselves in the movie) at the time the movie was shot, were relativity new to the movie industry. They had little money and limited resources, so they shot with what they could. In actual fact, the movie took over a year to make due to how little budget they had. Both Rémy and André ran out of money several times during the shooting and had to postpone it until they got some more. But a lot of friends and family of the two did contribute to the film so it could be made.
The main star of the show here is obviously, Ben. The man is so…weird. At times in the movie you can genuinely like him, as he shows a nice and loving side. In one scene he is playing with two small children and joking around with them, and you can’t help but smile at how nice he is. In other scenes, he is with his family and laughing, joking, hugging others, and just seeming a very nice person. So yes, he is a hard person to dislike at times.
In fact, in one essay André wrote that had information about Man Bites Dog, he said that Ben’s family did not have one clue about the actual plot of the movie. His family believed that him (André) and Rémy were just shooting footage of Ben that would be used elsewhere, but didn’t know it would be used in a film which Ben was a serial killer. Supposedly Ben’s mother was shocked after finding out.
But then we have the other side of Ben, this cold-hearted killer who doesn’t have any limits. He doesn’t have or show any sympathy to any of his victims. He just does what he has to, and it is crazy to think this is the same man who can play with children and be so nice. It’s almost like he is two different people. But deep down, he has no remorse for anything he does.
Ben clearly knows what he is doing too, at many different points in the film he teaches Rémy and André how to hide a body in a river by weighing it down, and by how much. And then quizzes them on it later in the movie. So, you can see that he is crafting them into the people he wants. Not just guys who are filming him, but people to actually help him. But even in the most tense moments, either when Ben is chasing someone down or killing someone, he continues to crack jokes.
[Ben is currently looking for a man that is hiding]
Ben: Remy, do you smell that?
Remy: No, what is it?
One scene in particular is a gang rape scene. After a night out at a local pub, Ben, Rémy and André all are walking around the city/town they live in, and Ben walks into an apartment complex and kicks down a random door to find a couple having sex. Ben holds a gun to the mans head, while Rémy and André take turns raping the woman.
This scene tends to be one of the most conversational of the movie, and in actual fact, it was a hard scene for the film makers (Rémy and André) to shoot. Both were very nervous about shooting the scene, more so Rémy. But Sylviane Godé who supported the movie let both film makers shoot the rape scene involving her. This comforted Rémy, as he was very shy about being nude in the scene.
In hindsight, Man Bites Dog such an original movie and shows that twisted people such as Ben can quietly fit into society and be himself, but then at times, lose his mind almost and do unspeakable things. I would delve deeper into the movie but I don’t discuss spoilers in these ‘A Look Back at:’ as that would take away things from people who have yet to see the movie and will do at some point. Man Bites Dog is a brilliant movie that had basically no budget and no big stars, but proved you can still do great things without both of them.
Questions you may ask:
Should you watch this?
Yes, if you haven’t seen Man Bites Dog yet and find it the slight bit interesting, then it is a must-see. It is hard to watch at times because of some killings, but its dark humor and fantastic life of Ben is enough of a reason to watch.
Does it hold up to this day?
It’s not all that old anyway, the movie was released in 1992 so it’s not that much of a problem to begin with. But yes, it does hold up to this day and like I said above, it’s worth your time if you find it interesting.
Is there any other movies like this I may like?
There isn’t a whole lot of movies like Man Bites Dog, but you could like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer which is kind of like it but I’d still call Man Bites Dog a much better movie. Another movie you may like is Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon which released in 2006 and follows Man Bites Dog heavily. It obviously got a lot of influence from it, so it is like it but is a bit more light hearted and cheesy all around. Nonetheless, still a movie you may enjoy.
Still if you have any questions, comments, or opinions, please leave a comment below or contact me directly at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’.
Thank you for reading!