Horror movie

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The Butcher of Mons was a nickname given to a notorious serial killer in Mons, Belgium, who left bags of dismembered women visible along the roads. As odious and brutal as these discoveries began, they ceased in 1997, and the identity of the Boucherie de Mons remains unknown today. Megalomaniac guess the atrocious serial killer had offspring that carried on his legacy. It produces extremism, confrontational horror that aims to offend as much as it evokes anger and societal reflection. It’s both captivating and uncomfortable to watch.

Megalomaniac opens with a scene of childbirth which, at first glance, could be mistaken for a scene of violent torture. A blood-soaked woman screams in fury and pain, her eyes red with blood from the strain, as the butcher and his eldest child wait for their newest member of the family. Moving on to the present, where adult siblings Martha (Eline Schumacher) and Felix (Benjamin Ramon) live alone in the spacious but crumbling Gothic mansion. Félix devotes himself entirely to following in his father’s footsteps, his modus operandi and all, while the shy Martha works the nights as a janitor in a factory. Their unconventional lifestyle seems to come crashing down once Martha suffers a series of grotesque muggings at work.

Writer/director Karim Ouelhaj mixes extreme nihilistic horror with psychological arthouse descent to capture Martha’s denouement. From the outset, Martha is established as intimidated, lacking in self-esteem, and hungry for love and stability. She is submissive to her more dominant brother, nearly mute at work, and plagued by vivid nightmares of demonic figures. Many bleeding in his waking life. Constant torment by Luc factory workers (Pierre Nisse), The worker (Quentin Lasbazeilles), and a culprit by passivity Jérôme (Wim Willaert) highlights Martha’s precarious grip on reality.

Ouelhaj lingers on the faces of the perpetrators, victim, and accomplice of Martha’s brutal assaults, captured in near-total silence to bring out the visceral discomfort. Instead of turning directly to revenge, Martha seeks solace in the concept of family, leading to a very different and grotesque way to achieve it. It’s a character study of a woman born and raised by a serial killer who targeted women and how it twisted her.

Martha’s story is shot like a baroque painting, with sharp contrasts of light and dark shadows. Martha’s inner demons lurk inside and a growing sense that perceptions are not what they seem. Francois Schmittthe ominous yet seductive gothic cinematography and muted palettes in conjunction with Gary Moonboots and Simon FransquetThe primal score of lends a dreamlike aesthetic to the hyper-violent horror that pushes the boundaries.

This helps tone down the horror that evokes sympathy for a character prone to condemnable actions. Schumacher’s portrayal of Martha is notable; deft personality changes keep you guessing while pulling you into its orbit. Morality lines fade as prey turns into predator. The more its characters become unbalanced, the more the nightmarish fantasy creeps in until a Grand Guignol finale with no easy answers.

Megalomaniac is a conversation starter. Ouelhaj does not hold hands and leaves much of Martha’s story up to interpretation. It’s aggressive and relentless in its torture, both Martha and the film’s many victims. Morality exists in a gray space, arousing sympathy for an otherwise repulsive beast; even the title is a starting point for consideration. Ouelhaj uses Martha’s world as a provocative way to critique the patriarchy and frames a fictional story around an unsolved true crime as an intentional affront. It keeps its audience perhaps too far away and it’s a little too dense in its introspection, but it is an intense and unsettling journey for those who wish to delve into the dark depths of taste.

Megalomaniac had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival and is currently awaiting distribution.