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“The feedback from the festivals has been enthusiastic and we noticed a real ‘craze’ [for the film] from female spectators. I find it especially touching,” Ouelhaj tells Variety, noting its viewers praise his fourth feature for “leaving its mark.”
“[They say] you keep thinking about it for days, it sticks to your skin and your brain. I’m happy to hear it’s not forgettable. The only ones who are disappointed, which is rare, [come in] expecting an entertaining slasher.”
Produced by Okayss and Les Films du Carré, the film was inspired by the terrifying case of a Belgian serial killer nicknamed “The Butcher of Mons” in the 1990s. He was never captured.
Apart from taking home Fantasia’s biggest honor, the Cheval Noir Award, “Megalomaniac” was noticed for Eline Schumacher’s performance as the killer’s daughter. Since then, the film was awarded at the U.K.’s Grimmfest and, finally, at Brooklyn Horror Film Festival in October – again for Schumacher’s work.
“We believe that intense practical effects and gruesome visuals in ‘Megalomaniac’ will make it a surefire hit with the genre community. But the character study of Martha offers a unique conversation on our value system and that should connect it to the arthouse audience,” says Michael Repsch, president of Dark Star Pictures.
Calling the film “absolutely unrelenting” in its approach to horror extremes and “equally visceral” in its depiction of human morality and the choices we make.
“This atypical look at virtue, along with the creative – albeit loose – connection to the real-life story of the Butcher of Mons, will encourage discussions on important topics,” he adds.
Factoris Films’ Tristan Prunier, praising Ouelhaj’s “super precise” work, also commented on Eline Schumacher’s performance. “It’s simply hypnotic,” he said.
“In France, connoisseurs of genre films are currently looking for harder, more extreme films. But ones that come with high quality and talent. We noticed it also when releasing [Taiwanese body horror] ‘The Sadness.’”
In a conversation with Variety back in July, Ouelhaj’s observed:
“Genre films allow the audience to accept the kind of reality that would be difficult to face otherwise. If it were a normal drama, it would have been too much – it would have felt too real. People need something else, especially when you talk about violence against women.”
“I think that, ultimately, this film is more about tension than violence. When it comes to violence, especially violence against women, we need to be responsible [as filmmakers]. But I believe that we need to show it, also in order not to forget about it.”
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