The story of Frank Verstraeten’s dream started 25 years ago. It’s 1997, and though he’s a computer wiz all day every day, he starts to get fascinated with the nightlife. After he gets refused entrance at one of Belgium’s hottest clubs, he sets himself a goal: create his very own one-of-a-kind club that’ll destroy all the competition. Together with the self-proclaimed Porn King – Dennis “Black Magic” (Matteo Simoni – Rookie, Cold Courage), Frank (Jonas Vermeulen – Red Light, Studio Tarara) opens up futuristic mega club Zillion and shows that everyone, even the shortest of guys, can make it big. Of course all good things come to an end, and after a great run the cracks start to show.
For those who don’t know the history of Antwerp’s temple of techno, I won’t spoil the details of its downfall, but as someone who grew up during the 90s, the media loved covering the events surrounding Frank and his associates. It’s one of the most fucked up insane stories, that was born to eventually be made into a film.
Robin Pront, whose last Belgian film dates back to 2015 (The Ardennes), has once again shown how skilful he is at making cinema. Not only did he co-wrote the script (together with Kevin Meul, who just recently co-wrote other Belgian director’s duo Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah’s REBEL), but he also has a specific visual style (mainly thanks to cinematographer Robrecht Heyvaert – Ms Marvel, REBEL) that sucks you in even more. We spend most of the time inside a club, surrounded by loud techno music and laser lights, so to say this is a visual spectacle, is an understatement.
The entire cast is truly something else. Every single one of them gives it their all, in ways I haven’t seen them do before. They all were inspired by true and some untrue events that happened back then, but besides that they’re also playing real life people. Most impressive is Simoni, who just steals every scene he’s in and without a doubt gives the best performance of his career. It’s hard to compare him with any of his fellow actors, because he’s just that good.
The music. Even if you’re not a fan of techno, and especially 90s techno, you’ll still be able to enjoy the wild twists and turns these people were able to get away with over and over again – until they didn’t. Zillion is a wildly entertaining film, that doesn’t shy away from the truth while throwing some extra gasoline on the already lit fire. Zillion wasn’t just a club, it was a lifestyle.
Reviewed at Kinepolis Antwerp, October 26, 2022. Running time: 138 min.
PRODUCTION: A Kinepolis Film Distribution (KFD) release of a FBO & Woestijnvis production. Producer: Hilde De Laere.
CREW: Director: Robin Pront. Writers: Kevin Meul & Robin Pront. Cinematography: Robrecht Heyvaert. Editing: Bert Jacobs.
CAST: Charlotte Timmers, Matteo Simoni, Geert Van Rampelberg, Ward Kerremans, Barbara Sarafian, Jonas Vermeulen, Jennifer Heylen, Ella Leyers, Stilian Keli & Dirk Roofthooft.