Martha (Eline Schumacher) leads a drab life – cleaning toilets in a scummy, generic office, being sexually assaulted, and trudging home before doing it all again the next day. But there’s something about her that nobody else knows – she lives with her brother Felix, they are both descendants of notorious serial killer “the Mons Butcher”, and her hammer-wielding sibling has been carrying on the family legacy.
Belgian filmmaker Karim Ouelhaj’s fourth feature is a bleak, savage homage to the films of the New French Extremity. Its slow-burn first hour takes its time to build a grim, dismal picture of despair and isolation, before exploding into a visceral catharsis of violent ecstasy. A moody, deliberately-paced and desaturated psychological study, which nonetheless hints at connections to such films as Martyrs, Haute Tension, and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Megalomanic has an ending that may just grab you and never let go.
Megalomaniac played at the Fantasia International Film Festival on 22 and 24 July.