Hey, are you obsessed with your own power? Are you possibly schizophrenic? Are you into extremely sadistic BDSM and degradation-play? Into spicy, taboo brother-sister incest scenes? Do you hate social workers, and love a good beef bourguignon? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then take your brother or sister, and your other imaginary self out on a family date night to see Dark Star Pictures’ Megalomaniac in theaters this month!
Directed by Belgian filmmaker Karim Ouelhaj (L’oeil Silencieux, Parabola), Megalomaniac has been heralded by many horror critics and closet Clockwork Orange fans as “ultra-violent,” and I’ll tell you this my polly droogs, this film is very horrorshow. It secured the top Jury Prize for Best Feature at the Fantasia Film Festival. I wasn’t on the jury, but I can tell you I go to Fantasia every year dressed as one of the marching brooms from Fantasia and people literally throw cabbage at me, which is pretty fucked up, but the cabbage tossers at Fantasia know what they’re doing, and if the glove fits you must acquit. In this case, the jury ruling on Megalomaniac found it GUILTY … of being a scary-good watch. However, the jury is still out on whether director Karim Ouelhaj is blood-related to his fellow Belgian, The Butcher of Mons, not to be confused with Sal “The Butcher of Ham” at my local deli.
The film is inspired by and connected to the real-life—and still unknown—serial killer dubbed The Butcher of Mons, who, arguably (according to this list), is a real piece of shit. Now, considering The Butcher was never caught, the film builds on the dark and disturbing legend of the killer and imagines that he had two children, a boy, and a girl, who were raised to carry on his sadistic work of torture and murder.
Here are the pros of this film: It’s highly stylized with gothic overtones and it delivers on the brutality and the gore. Its cinematography is dark and gritty and harkens back to a Darren Aronofsky picture and in some of the scenes it’s even on par with the surrealist Tarkovsky.
My only con is an issue I come across a lot when reviewing newer horror flicks. There seems to be a disconnect between the initial premise, the actual story, and plot that unfolds within that story. The selling point of Megalomaniac is that it’s inspired by true crime and is supposed to build upon the legend of a serial killer, which, in theory, it does. But the film is more about two neglected, psychotic children carrying out acts of supremely sadistic violence.
Yes, on paper, Felix, played by a seething and wicked Benjamin Ramon, is the heir to The Butcher of Mon’s legacy and is, in fact, carrying out his father’s murders, but that’s more of a backdrop to show you the horrible world where Felix’s sister Martha, played by Eline Schumacher, has to live. Schumacher’s portrayal of Martha evokes empathy, and she definitely reads as a more twisted Elizabeth Moss from The Handmaid’s Tale.
After we see Martha born and handed to her brother Felix, we flash forward to their current lives and Martha is working as a janitor in a factory where (trigger warning) she is raped repeatedly by co-workers. After being assaulted, and still having to clean the factory, Martha comes home to her gothic mansion where her brother works full time raping and murdering women. BRUTAL. Martha has no refuge from the cruelty of the world. I’m no Frasier Crane, but all this insane trauma might explain Martha’s dissociative episodes and borderline, split personality disorder. Martha has another self that she can see and talk to, and she can easily become lost in her nightmares and visions.
What’s equally insane is that just as you start to really empathize with Martha’s horrific plight, you slowly come to find out that she is as twisted, if not more twisted, than her professional serial killer brother. This is fully revealed when she asks her brother for a pet. She’s lonely in the mansion and asks Felix for a kitty. She even has one picked out that she wants her brother to bring home. The “kitty” is actually a woman they chain to a pipe by her throat. To be fair, Martha does feed her new pet and bathe her, but she also uses her new pet to take out all her frustrations.
If all of that wasn’t enough—BIG SPOILER HERE—Martha is pregnant with her rapists’ baby! She was raped repeatedly by two men at the factory while her cuck of a boss just listened to it happening and did nothing to intervene. So, Martha doesn’t know who the father of her child is, and as she gets closer to the due date, we see her unravel almost completely as she finally takes on the family trade of sadistic murder and mayhem that starts with the degradation of a woman trained to be a house pet to Martha bashing in the skull of her social worker with a meat tenderizer. I won’t spoil the very end, but it’s as savory as the beef bourguignon she prepares for her co-workers.
Megalomaniac has a lot of twists and turns, but they’re paced well as is the ultra-violence. It’s got style and substance, and it’s worth a couple of views if you have the guttiwuts for it (guttiwuts is Clockwork Orange slang for guts). Again, this could be the beef bourguignon I’m devouring and spilling all over my lap as I type this, but I smell a franchise simmering in Megalomaniac’s bloody broth.
Megalomaniac has the same kind of feel as the first Purge, Wolf Creek, and The Collector, where it’s building an extremely brutal world of sadism that’s worth more exploration, you know, if you’re into that kind of thing? No, kink shaming. I do not speak for Ravenous Monster at all. Legally, they’ve told me never to do that again, but I’d like to think we are a kink-positive horror webzine, but before you update your lists of dos and don’ts and add us on FetLife, think of the possibilities Megalomaniac presents in terms of cranking out more horror movies.
Now that Martha is pregnant, does that mean The Butcher of Mons’ work will continue? Will Martha and her brother train the next generation of Butchers? How long will the megalomania and mayhem cycle through Belgium? Will it cycle through all of Europe? Will there be more beef bourguignon in the sequels!? Chain me to a pipe and call me a little kitty, because this baby cat needs some more Megalomaniac (Just cool it on the brother sister sex stuff in the next one, okay, Karim?)!