dir. Karim Ouelhaj
Extreme horror is, to put it lightly, not for everyone. But for those who desire a visceral, disturbing experience it’s the ideal conduit for exploring boundaries which are taboo or subversive. In this director Karim Ouelhaj has created an incredibly impressive and utterly brutal examination of evil in his latest, shocking feature.
Utilising gorgeous cinematography and a haunting score to juxtapose the filth and blood, Megalomaniac is the kind of horror that follows you home at night and haunts your dreams: it offers no reprieve from the incessant darkness and degradation in the life of serial killer Félix (Benjamin Ramon) and his sister Martha (Eline Schumacher), instead summoning images that are both terrifying and exhilarating, with fantasy and reality crashing together to create a kind of gothic fairy tale.
Martha works nights at a local factory, dealing with constant assault and cruelty from her coworkers, whilst Felix trawls the streets for victims, often murdering in broad daylight. He has continued his father’s work, who 25 years ago was known as The Mons Butcher and was known as the area’s most prolific serial killer. Throughout the narrative their father shows himself to Martha as a red-eyed, pitch black demon, though the viewer knows him only through her blood-soaked nightmares.
The relationship between Martha and Felix is deranged yet somehow sweet at times, even if there is no escaping the oppressive nature of their co-dependency or the pair’s thinly veiled incestuous desires. The violence too is unflinching; each hammer blow and knife slice presented with the open-eyed stare of a filmmaker who is looking to confront, though surprisingly not in a hollow or vapid way that many extreme films offer.
Instead Ouelhaj has created a truly unique and thought-provoking film that will challenge the viewer with its bleakness, while invigorating the sub-genre with incredible performances and chilling imagery.
© Jerry Sampson