Martha and Félix are children of the Butcher of Mons, a notorious Belgian serial killer from the 1990s. While Martha lives an unstable life riddled with insecurities, her brother, crushed by the family legacy, takes over their father’s killings. Harassed and violently assaulted at work, Martha falls into madness and goes through the looking glass into the strange and terrifying world inhabited by her brother
Grimmfest Says: A sulphurous study of the legacy of abuse, and of the iniquities of a monstrous, murderous father upon his damaged children, this is a film that pulls no punches and refuses to let you look away. Unapologetically confrontational in approach, it almost challenges the viewer to engage with it at first; the objective eye and cold sense of distance seemingly offering nothing and no one to connect to. But the claustrophobic atmosphere pulls you in anyway, like one of those suffocating fever dreams you can’t escape. Heavily stylised, with amazingly detailed production design and startling cinematography, the film moves effortlessly between grimy, gritty, squalid social realism, and a kind of surreal expressionist nightmare gothic, all underpinned by a murkily oppressive guitar drone and electronica soundtrack. It’s anchored in recognisable human reality by an astonishing lead performance from Eline Schumacher, who is able to shift between heartbreakingly vulnerable and sympathetic and utterly monstrous within the same scene. Brutally violent, emotionally gruelling, and cruel, it’s a film that most definitely contains images and sequences that some viewers may find offensive or triggering, but this is bold, bravura filmmaking, and some of those images are going to stay with you forever.
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