“Small Gods,” Dimitri Karakatsanis’ ambitious spiritual road picture, which owes much to brother Nicolas’ virtuoso lensing for its mystical overlay of mystery and dread, may actually be stronger in execution than in concept. Part dream quest, part insanity-tinged horror trip, pic’s narrative, recounted by its heroine to her lawyer, may never have happened, except in her mind and on the screen. Ultimately, pic’s fervent, humorless belief in its own mytho-system proves its downfall as an absurd boxing match with God is treated with the same gravitas as out-of-the-blue patricidal revenge. Off-the-wall Flemish-language psychological thriller overreaches itself.
After a quasi-suicidal car accident that kills her young son, Elena (Steffi Peeters) is kidnapped from the hospital by Good Samaritan David (Titus De Voogdt), who is traveling across the druggy landscapes in a van. Joined by Sara (Louiza Van de Woestijne), a mute insane-asylum escapee whose family was wiped out by a band of killers, the trio journeys toward murderous redemption while taking tender care of one another. At the close of Elena’s recounting of her adventures to her attorney, he has tears in his eyes. Viewers may have other reactions.