|MOVIE DETAILS |
• Name: Megalomaniac
• Year: 2022
• Country: Belgium
• Director: Karim Ouelhaj
• Main cast: Eline Schumacher, Benjamin Ramon, Hélène Moor, Wim Willaert, Raphaële Bruneau, Pierre Nisse
• Runtime: 118 minutes
• Production company: Les Films du Carré, Okayss Prod., Umedia
The times of the New French Extremity and the hype of torture porn horror films are long gone. The first decade of the 2000s brought us an explosion of cruel filmmakers developed by independent and, mostly, new creators who were tired of the accommodation in horror movies of the late 1990s and wanted to bring some danger back to the silver screen. In France, particularly, the scene was amusingly rich with essential titles like Alexandre Aja’s Haute tension (2003), Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s À l’intérieur (2007), and Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs (2008), having in consideration other international instant classics like Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005) and its sequel Hostel: Part II (2007), Tom Six’s The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009) and its sequel The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011), and Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film (2010).
In the last 10 years, that sense of being watching a dangerous new film full of brutal images and a really disturbing plot has diluted in a very tragic way. Everything seems to be complacent again, and that is why it is a superb surprise to face a film like Megalomaniac (2022).
Megalomaniac (2022) could perfectly be part of the New French Extremity of the early century, and not only because it’s made in the French language but also because the film pushes the boundaries of cruelty, mental insanity, perversion, and bloody violence until one completely forgets what is supposed to be normal social behaving. It is the kind of film where mostly no one is innocent, everybody is evil in a lower or higher degree, and the viewer is submerged in the narrative in a way that gives up any hope for a happy ending by the time the final credits start to roll.
The director of the film, Karim Ouelhaj, has already a few titles on his back, mostly dark-toned dramas, but this time he goes full-horror in Megalomaniac (2022). With superb cinematography resulting in every frame being a postcard of terror, and a story where limitation and censorship were never part of the menu, he builds a solid film that becomes almost 2 hours of fun uncomfortable watch, a collection of wicked characters carrying on vile actions, a dehumanizing tale.
The starting point is shocking enough as we see how the two main characters, brother and sister, are doomed and disattached from what the social regulations are since they are born in the nest of a father who is one of the most brutal serial killers in Belgium, the Butcher of Mons. So when the kids are adults, they already have a background of dissolute existence. The older brother has been carrying on with the father’s legacy perpetrating constant murders while the younger sister, who is trying unsuccessfully to become a productive member of society with a job as a cleaner in a nasty factory, has an amalgamation of cruel cravings mixed with the mother instincts of caring.
The narrative in Megalomaniac (2022) is escaping from the cliches of normality, as the happenings depicted on the screen are. The director shows you only what you need to see and leaves the audience to complete the story leftovers as they feel. But perhaps it is not necessary. Perhaps you don’t need to know the life story of the collection of vile characters and victims that appear during the watch, they are irrelevant. But, yet, the complete experience of watching the movie is exciting, powerful, and entertaining, and it doesn’t feel like having any weak spots or missing parts of information. It is good enough as it is.
The writer and director Karim Ouelhaj sets such a wicked scenario that he manages to achieve a favorable situation for two stimulating aspects of storytelling. First, the audience is uneasy from the very first instants, and second, he feels free to go as far as he wants with the story. Those two factors so well combined in Megalomaniac (2022) result in a watch full of surprises, a movie where you can’t expect what will happen next.
In the setup, tone, narrative, and even visual moments, Megalomaniac (2022) has much in common with Martyrs (2008), a movie that has become a top title for fans of extreme horror cinema. Those are big words that should encourage you to give a try to this little dark gem. I missed it when it had the festival run last year collecting a few awards in notable genre festivals like Grimmfest and Fantasia Film Festival, but it has become probably my favorite movie I have seen this year. It will be available on digital platforms on September 26, 2023, by Dark Star Pictures so if Megalomaniac (2022) appears on your way don’t hesitate.
IMDB URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt10916810