Borgman Explained: Exploring a Creepy, Funny, Unsettling Thriller

A dark cult psychological thriller, Borgman follows the story of a homeless man trying to work his way into an arrogant upper-middle-class family. And what follows is a slow but painful process where Borgman and his motley crew of hoodlums turn the family’s lives into hell by manipulating their psyches.

It was the first Dutch film in 38 years to be nominated for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or. Borgman is a confusing movie with very unclear character motives, so you may have to watch it a couple of times to get it. But if you don’t have the patience for it, here’s Borgman explained.

What Is Borgman and the Team?

Borgman and the Team

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If you’ve seen the movie, you might get why “What is Borgman” is a more suitable question than “Who is Borgman”. Because Borgman and his ragtag team of misfits, for some unknown reason, share a history that isn’t shown and have the power to manipulate and control people’s dreams and thoughts.

Because the result is just utter chaos working to no one’s particular advantage, figuring out the motives of the team is damn near impossible. And that’s why you need a Borgman explained article.

The crew of Borgman includes Ludwig, Pascal, Brenda, and Ilonka. At first glance, it makes no sense how this diverse group of strangers is connected, or what they each represent if symbolism is their purpose for being.

However, they are in cahoots to actualize their sinister plot and work like cogs in a machine. Borgman and his whole team are a true enigma and agents of chaos and calamity.

History of Borgman and Its Director

History of Borgman

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Borgman (2013) was directed by Dutch screenwriter, producer, and actor Alex Van Warmerdam who also plays Ludwig in the movie. He was born in the North Holland province of the Netherlands and began his career in feature films in 1986.

The journal De Filmkrant also conferred upon him the title of “white raven of today’s Dutch cinema” for picking up on the nuances of the Dutch sensibilities and touching on their absurdism through confounding story plots.

It’s hard to pinpoint what Borgman was inspired by due to its lack of sense and high paranormality. The story has no clear message, and the ending is far from memorable. There is an iota of classism represented in the story but it isn’t given any development that falls within the boundaries of reality.

Main Cast

Main Cast

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#1. Camiel Borgman: Played by Jan Bijvoet

#2. Marina: Played by Hadewych Minis

#3. Richard: Played by Jeroen Perceval

#4. Ludwig: Played by Alex Van Warmerdam

#5. Pascal: Played by Tom Dewispelaere

#6. Stine: Played by Sara Hjort Ditlevsen

#7. Isolde: Played by Elve Lijbaart

#8. Rebecca: Played by Dirkje van der Pijl

#9. Leo: Played by Pieter-Bas de Waard

#10. Ilonka: Played by Eva van de Wijdeven

#11. Brenda: Played by Annet Malherbe

#12. Gardener: Played by Gene Bervoets

#13. Arthur Stornebrink: Played by Benjamin Boe Rasmussen

#14. Priest: Played by Pierre Bokma

For a list of the complete cast and crew click here.

The Plot


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The movie begins with the priest along with his group of armed men driving out a bunch of homeless people from their underground shelter in a forest. One of the escapees is Borgman. He hitches a ride with a trucker to a safe suburban upper-class neighborhood where he finds himself in the mansion of a family with 3 children.

Borgman is the portrait of unkemptness, poverty, despair, and carries a grim expression as he knocks on the door of the mansion. Richard, the father, opens the door and Borgman requests the use of his shower. Richard denies him entry, so Borgman starts to allude to knowing his wife. This makes Richard angry and he beats Borgman up pretty badly.

Maria, Richard’s wife, empathizes with Borgman for some reason and treats his wounds, even going so far as offering him secret refuge in the garden shed. It is from this point that Borgman starts to infect the family with his team’s help and their psychological control and warfare tactics.

They manage to gain both Maria’s and her kids’ favor, turning them against Richard. He also manages to kidnap the kids and perform some kind of lewd surgery on them to tame them further.

Eventually, the entire family is distorted and plunged into chaos.



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Some critics of Borgman explained it as thriller hogwash. They have reduced the film to a nonsensical paranormal drama designed simply to incite thrill. It’s a fair critique.

However, some others argue the themes are too universal to specify. The characters simply exist to turn everything that touches them into chaos through brainwashing. Borgman is a force of evil we let into our minds by disguising our desire for it as altruism or something else.

It accentuates the role ego plays in diluting morality by dowsing it in fiction, fantasies, and unreasonable entitlements. It is a symptom experienced by the upper classes of society that have dominated the lower for eons.

Human beings are canvases that can be dyed in any color, as seen with Maria. She turns against her own husband, against all logic and in full cooperation with her hallucinations induced by Borgman and his team.

There are many ways to look at this movie and what it represents.


· Where Can I Watch Borgman?

Depending on your country, you might be able to rent or buy the entire movie from Youtube or Google Play.

You can also watch it on Amazon Prime and Vudu.

· Is Borgman R-rated?

Borgman has not been rated by any certification board in the United States, but for reference, it has been rated 16+ in most European countries. You can check the ratings here.

The movie contains a degree of sex and nudity, violence and gore, and profanity.

· What Languages Is the Movie Borgman Offered In?

You can watch the movie in English or Dutch.

A Few Parting Words

The key takeaway here is that Alex Van Waterdam is a dark director. He doesn’t shy from sadistic themes and introduces them with a Dutch quintessence, making him the recipient of multiple screenplay awards. And Borgman is arguably his greatest work yet. Hope this Borgman explained article helped clarify some of your queries about this enigmatic movie.

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