Animals (DVD) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Drama
Director: Nabil Ben Yadir
Distributor: Cinéart
Duration: 88 minutes

Animals (DVD) – Movie Review

Site Score
Good: Horrific real tale, Great acting
Bad: Pretty harsh and not very entertaining
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Human beings are capable of some truly heinous acts, especially against other people that are perceived as different than them. Fiction does not shy away from this theme, though the movie we are watching today is based on a real, horrific event that took place here in Belgium. The murder of Ihsane Jarfi is to this day the first officially recognized homophobic hate crime with death as a result in this country. Director Nabil Ben Yadir takes this harsh reality and turns it into a gripping, confronting movie that shows us that humans are not too far removed from animals when they allow themselves to be dragged into hatred.

The murder this movie is retelling took place in 2012. Pretty faithfully, Animals tells the story of a young gay man named Brahim (Soufiane Chilah) who is not that different from other men his age, aside from his orientation. Still, it causes prejudice from his surroundings and when he attends his mother’s birthday party, his plans to come out of the closet are put on hold in the face of their conservative mindset. Brahim leaves disappointed and later is met by four men (Gianni Guettaf, Vincent Overath, Lionel Maisin & Serkan Sancak) and tricked into entering their car to show them the way to a local club. Instead, they bring Brahim somewhere secluded with the sole purpose of torturing and murdering him for the sole crime of being gay.

The subject matter probably makes it clear this is not an easy movie to watch. Yadir knows exactly what he is doing in the directing though: long shots and minimal editing combined with the movie’s sober colors and sound design remind us more of a documentary than a movie. You are put right in the action while watching, and this is due to how the camera is placed, but at the same time the movie does not show the most graphic violence on screen. This keeps Animals from becoming a gore fest that is meant to sensationalize the torture. The movie instead focuses on how Brahim is just a regular guy and the facts that what’s happening to him is downright disgusting, even if it’s something that is frighteningly common.

What really carries a movie like this is the acting. Soufiane Chilah has been known for his raw, open performances in similar titles and it brings a lot of weight to Animals too. The movie gives us a chance to meet Brahim as a character first and lets us get to know him, his wishes, and his humanity, before cutting to the torture, which is both well done and much needed. It also focuses on the aftermath, following the youngest of the murderers and what his life is like in the direct echoes of what he has done. While their roles are by far not as prominent, all other actors and actresses put down a solid performance too. Most of them are experienced and have played in a lot of other movies. We also must compliment Antoine Cuypers who worked on the scenario with Yadir and brought in his own skills from working on similar projects before.

The DVD release of Animals is rated for ages 18 and up, unsurprising knowing the amount of violence in the storyline. It also comes with no bonus material, though given the subject matter this was probably a good choice. This movie stands perfectly on its own and will leave any watchers with plenty of food for thought. It doesn’t need anything added to it, least of all bloopers or deleted scenes. It’s to the point, raw and straightforward.


Animals shows a dark side of humanity, but one that is all too real and still remains in many corners of society today. While this sheds a light on how visceral the hatred some harbor towards those that are different than themselves can become, it also is an artistic approach that keeps your eyes glued to the screen without making real events into a spectacle. Not entertaining, but harsh and confrontational.

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Animals (DVD) - Movie Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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