If you’re a fan of Netflix’s slick and stylish true crime dramas, you’ve probably noticed how bright and crisp they tend to be. Serial killers living in either spotless houses or in designer detritus. In reality, the picture tends to be a lot more squalid. While the base facts of the murders don’t change, the little details do. Real life tends to be much more unpalatable. Harder to digest. Megalomaniac revels is this unpleasantness.
The Butcher of Mons was a notorious serial killer in Belgium during the late 1990s. He was never caught and his identity remains unknown to this day. Years later, Martha (Eline Schumacher) and Félix (Benjamin Ramon), his children, are now grown up and live alone together in an old dilapidated house. While he carries on his father’s ‘work’ in private, she’s a cleaner in a factory. A job where she is routinely ridiculed and abused. Until one day she snaps.
You’ll need to take a bath after watching Megalomaniac, but good luck washing those nightmares away. Suffice to say, given the subject matter, approach with care. For Karim Ouelhaj’s film takes no prisoners in its depiction of abuse, misogyny and cycles of violence. To say it’s difficult, at times, is an understatement. However, there is also beauty amongst the foulness. Visually, it’s remarkable. Each shot is silhouetted in lurid darkness. There’s a real painstaking attention to detail. Whether that will outweigh any reservations you might have, is another question entirely.
Megalomaniac screens at Grimmfest.