Megalomaniac is a feel-bad movie, i.e., the exact opposite of a feel-good movie. Every second of Karim Ouelhaj’s film about the story of two siblings, Martha and Félix, who are carrying on the legacy of their serial killer father, is simply puke-inducing. Well, Felix is the one who kidnaps, tortures, brutalizes, and then murders girls, while Martha just looks on. But Martha aspires to have a kidnapped woman as a pet. So, it’s not like she’s completely innocent. Martha is portrayed rather sympathetically, as she is regularly harassed by one of her colleagues, Luc, at the plant where she works. Two of her colleagues, Jérôme and L’ouvrier, simply turn a blind eye to it all, with L’ouvrier sometimes assisting Luc during his abusive activities. This leads to Martha getting pregnant. She tries to keep up the charade that she isn’t being abused, that she isn’t pregnant, and that she isn’t hallucinating all the time by focusing on the human pet that Félix has brought for her.
What Is the Deal With Martha?
The plot of Megalomaniac is pretty straightforward. The siblings hold a victim hostage. Someone finds out about it, and the victim escapes. The witness gets killed, and the victim is recaptured. That’s 80 percent of the film’s plot. The film mostly takes place in a dilapidated house and in a factory. There are a few shots of the street. And the focus is mostly on Martha and her hallucinations. Through Martha’s caseworker, Madame Connecci, we learn that Martha definitely has some medically diagnosed mental health issues. She needs to regularly take medicines and follow a strict routine. However, due to her personality, she fails to stand up for herself. She heavily depends on Félix, but she fails to tell him about the issues she’s facing at her workplace. At one point, while checking out what Felix does to his victims, Martha expresses fear. However, a wild shot of her father shows that some of his spirit resides in her, I suppose.
By the way, Megalomaniac begins with her birth, and the way it is shot, edited, lit, and performed genuinely feels like the emergence of something ungodly. It looks like something that shouldn’t have been created has been ushered into this world. This is accentuated by Martha’s demented hallucinations, which can be a result of deeply troubled thoughts as well as her pregnancy and her medication. That said, taking this approach to define Martha undercuts the realistic portrayal of her mental health issues. It is made all the more complicated by the harassment she faces and the harassment she unloads on the tongue-less Julie. It’s obvious that since Martha doesn’t have anyone to boss over, she torments Julie to feel somewhat superior. And we are supposed to empathize with Martha, as she’s a victim of abuse. Do you see the dilemma, though? I think the movie wants us to look past the abuse that Martha inflicts upon Julie because her violent thoughts aren’t her own. Does it work? I genuinely don’t know, and maybe that is what Karim Ouelhaj wants. He wants us to walk in a state of confusion regarding the human mind.
What Is the Deal With Félix?
Félix is relatively simpler. He has seen his father kill women all throughout his teenage years as well as his adulthood. His father’s specter follows him all the time. So, he does the same. He doesn’t seem to be as maniacal as his father, though. Most of the time, he appears calm and composed. He never lashes out. He takes care of Martha. Yes, of course, he becomes the exact opposite of that while dealing with his victims. He becomes a monster, with the ruthlessness inside him bubbling out of every sinew of his body. He brings his victims home and makes records of himself torturing them. To what end? I don’t know. Maybe he loves to watch all those women screaming for help before dying. Maybe he looks for imperfections in his “craft.” There is a sense of dissatisfaction and emptiness in him.
It’s possible that Félix thinks that he’ll never be as great as his murderous father. However, he doesn’t have any expertise in any other profession. So he can’t branch out and step out of his father’s shadow. It’s possible that he has accepted that, and with every murder, the cyclical nature of his life becomes more and more apparent. Given how Félix tells Martha to stay out of his little murder room, is it safe to assume that he doesn’t want her to end up like him or their father? Then why does he bring her that human pet? It’s so confusing. In addition to all that, Karim Ouelhaj seems to be playing into the trope of the seductive serial killer that has become the topic of conversation around true crime documentaries. People love somewhat good-looking, gothic murderers, apparently. That’s because they don’t need to see what they actually do to an innocent human being, and Ouelhaj chips away at that facade with each (fictional) murder. I don’t know about everyone else, but I did feel like taking a bath after witnessing every gruesome act of violence that Félix commits. It’s way more realistic than true crime documentaries and serial killer biopics “based on true stories.”
Does Felix help Martha get her revenge?
So, a couple of things happen during the third act of Megalomaniac. Martha invites Luc, Jérôme, and L’ouvrier to dinner. Connecci pays a random visit to the chateau where Martha and Félix live while Martha is absent. Usually, Martha hides Julie, but since she isn’t there, Connecci notices Julie and tries to set her free. Unfortunately, she makes too much noise, thereby prompting Félix to come down from his room, and he ties Connecci up. Julie manages to run away, but Martha murders Connecci brutally. She clearly hated Connecci because she asked her so many questions about her well-being. Felix goes after Julie. She thinks that she is safe, but Félix catches up to her and drags her back to the chateau. After taking a warm bath, Félix and Martha welcome Luc, Jérôme, and L’ouvrier to the dinner table. As expected, Martha or Félix have poisoned the food, thereby weakening the three men so that they can be killed easily.
Jérôme dies almost instantly, and Luc and Jérôme try to make a run for it. But they are ambushed by Félix, who bludgeons the living hell out of their bodies. Felix sustains quite a few injuries, too, because the siblings might have jumped the gun. They should have allowed them to consume some more poison before revealing their intentions. Anyway, while Félix fights, Martha goes into labor and gives birth to her baby while vaguely remembering her own father. At the end of Megalomaniac, Félix manages to finish off both Luc and Jérôme, thereby avenging Martha. As he returns to Martha, we get a puke-inducing but picturesque frame of Martha holding the baby while Félix slumps beside her, and Julie peers at Martha over the sofa. So, the movie begins with a childbirth and ends with a childbirth. The movie doesn’t show what the nature of the relationship was between Martha’s father and her mother. By the looks of it, things weren’t consensual. We do know that things weren’t consensual between Martha and Luc. Hence, this indicates that the cycle of violence is being continued, and it’ll continue until Martha and Félix, or their kids, stop reproducing. If they don’t, there won’t be any end to it, and people will keep falling victim to their devilish methods.