Coming all the way from Belgium to Fantasia International Film Festival is the world premiere of Megalomaniac. In this film, written and directed by Karim Ouelhaj (Parabola, Le Repas du Singe), we meet siblings Martha and Felix. Their father was the famed Mons Butcher that terrorized the area until 1997, when Martha was born, leaving the police in the dark as to who the killer of many women could be. Now as adults, both Felix and Martha carry the weight of their father’s legacy in different ways.
Megalomaniac feels very much like a Belgian answer to French extremity film. It touches on the familial trauma and violence that gets passed down through the generations, as well as that line that can often be blurred between victim and perpetrator. Yet what seems to be the true driving force behind this film is simply violence towards women. There might be a message in there that is meant to be a commentary on inherited violence and the patriarchy, but it gets lost in the truly horrific, graphic, violent acts constantly carried out on women in the film. The content of Megalomaniac is guaranteed to polarize audiences, appealing to those who enjoy extreme horror and likely triggering many others.
The two leads of the film deliver disturbing performances that will haunt viewers. Eline Schumacher (The Break) is the primary focus of the film as Martha. Schumacher’s portrayal of this character is how she can be both sympathetic and deranged in turn. Benjamin Ramon (Yummy, Cannibal) is truly disturbing as Martha’s older brother, Félix. His performance conveys a quiet stoicism with unbridled rage bubbling just beneath the surface.
Along with the performances, the artistry of Megalomaniac is quite well done. The filmmakers clearly took great care to use stunning cinematography, lighting, and coloration to add an element of beauty to the horror taking place. There are also many dream sequences that, while they confuse the plot a bit, add a strange element of mysticism that is frightening and eye-catching. And, of course, the film includes plenty of blood and gore that is as well crafted as it is disturbing.
Megalomaniac is a well crafted film when it comes to performances and artistry, but lacks the cathartic release to truly make this kind of extreme content bearable.
OVERALL RATING: 4/10