Released in 1992, “It Happened Near You” is still one of the most distressing films there is, despite its undeniable qualities. If the film sparked controversy when it was released, the controversy had already started much earlier with a poster that shocked.
It happened near you: the Poelvoorde revelation
In the 1980s, Rémy Belvaux joined Insas, a famous Brussels film school. He doesn’t know it yet, but this entrance to the school will ring as the turning point in his career. He thus finds his great friend Benoit Poelvoorde there, and meets another director named André Bonzel. The two directors thus began their collaboration by co-directing in 1987, a parody short film entitled No C4 for Daniel Daniel with Benoît Poelvoorde. However, their second project a few years later will be much more important with the cult film named It happened close to you.
Initially, the feature film was Remy Belvaux’s graduation project. Shot in black and white, and with an absolutely ridiculous budget, it presented itself as a parody of the Franco-Belgian program. Striptease (which has long been broadcast on France 3). This false documentary, endowed with (very) dark humor, follows Ben, a hired killer who is followed by a team of directors while he “works” to brutally murder his victims.
It happened close to you will be a real critical card, winning the SACD Critics’ Week Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Benoit Poelvoorde, meanwhile, explodes in the eyes of Belgium and France for his first major role. At the same time, he won the Best Actor Award at the Catalonia International Film Festival. Ironically, he was not destined for a career as an actor.
With the years, It happened close to you will become a cult film thanks to the interpretation of its main actor as well as the deeply cynical dialogues of the character he plays.
The discord poster
Despite a press conquered by the film, the violence and the many taboo subjects of the film deeply shocked its audience. Indeed, following, like a documentary, the adventures of a racist, homophobic hired killer who takes pleasure in killing children, was not easy. Between the jokes about the death of little Grégory and the gang rape scenes, It happened close to you has gone very far in its objective of depicting a morality that has become totally non-existent in our society.
However, Remy Belvaux and his men were not at all afraid to shock. This was also seen in the movie poster they wanted to post. So, Ben was seen shooting down, spurting blood and a pacifier. If the poster is not a problem in Belgium, this is less the case in several other countries, notably France.
Indeed, the pacifier which symbolizes the idea that Ben shoots a baby, does not please France at all. To prevent the film from going under the -18 classification, the poster is then changed, a denture replacing the pacifier. Note that in the USA, in addition to removing the scenes of rape and infanticide, the country decided to use a new visual, with a close-up of the killer’s armed hand.
For those who would like to (re) watch It happened close to you, it is available on Amazon Prime.