Ginger Nuts of Horror
By Alex Davis
Dir. Kasper Juhl, Denmark, 73 min
Having so recently been blown away with Kasper Juhl's most recent movie, Your Flesh, Your Curse – which earned the #2 spot on my Film Gutter Top Ten of 2017 – I was naturally curious to delve further back into the director's previous work. There are two films that I had heard the most about – A God Without a Universe (which I will be looking at in a future installment!) and today's focus, 2013's Madness of Many. This movie comes with a reputation for being pretty confronting, which it did live up to throughout its runtime.
I have to start the body of this review by saying it's hard to watch this one without drawing some comparisons to Your Flesh, Your Curse. The movie treads many similar aspects – the extreme suffering and pain of its female lead, the philosophical approach and voiceover, the similarity of some scenes from on to the next... the lead character even has a similar name. And while I stand by Madness of Many is a good film in its own right, I just feel as though it falls short of its more recent counterpart.
Our story follows Victoria White, a young woman trying to make sense of a horrific life of abuse and torture, first at the hands of her parents and then at the hands of a grim group of abductors. Much of the actual information comes in the form of voiceover from lead actress Ellen Abrahamson, who certainly brings the kind of strange and ethereal quality needed for this sort of project. With that said, her voiceover does become a little grating as her delivery is fairly monotone – this might be a deliberate decision, but it just seems to lack real emotion and inflection and somewhat diminishes the impact of what we see on screen.
The awful things that she goes through are very well presented and have the same quality as YF, YC, feeling very authentic and believable – often too much so for comfort. That's not presented as a criticism, more as an observation of the integrity and thorough approach of all involved. It's certainly not a pretty movie either, and things are presented in a gritty fashion that many times makes it feel more akin to the work of Lucifer Valentine than anything else, both in terms of its content and many aspects of its soundscape. It's a hard watch in a number of places, that's for sure.
It's ultimately a sort of bleak vision of a life blighted by pain and misery, presented in a very non-linear fashion as almost a montage overlaid with voiceover to explain some of the actions and indeed the effect of what is going on. Surprisingly, it actually has a strangely upbeat message to it and closes with one of very few rays of hope in the entire movie.
As I said upfront, Madness of Many is certainly a good movie. It doesn't hold back, presenting its more gruesome content in a very effective fashion, it has some interesting ideas and there are some beautiful shots amidst the horror. With that said, I would still point you to Your Flesh, Your Curse as the director's better movie – given the themes and style the comparison is irresistible. If I were to try and draw a suitable analogy, YF, YC is like being artfully cut to pieces by a skilled samurai, while Madness of Many is like being beaten to death with a baseball bat. MOM has a blunt intensity all its own, and it's well worth a look in its own right.
RATING: 7/10. Another strong offering from Danish director Kasper Juhl, whose stock in the field of extreme horror is rising and rightly so. There's lots to like here, but it just lacks a little bit of refinement in a few places. The voiceover becomes a bit overbearing, and the lead actress here – while solid – doesn't quite live up to the fantastic performance of Marie-Louise Damgaard in Your Flesh, Your Curse. There's plenty of very dark content and things that are difficult to watch, but it has an unmistakably strong impact and is certainly worth them time of any extreme horror fans out there.