Malefique (film, 2005)
From SFX 137.
THREE AND A HALF STARS
Directed by: Eric Valette
Written by: Alexandre Charlot, Franck Magnier and François Cognard
Starring: Gérald Laroche, Philippe Laudenbach, Clovis Cornillac and Dimitri Rataud
Black magic in French pokey
French films are just, well, terribly French. Malefique is no exception. Odd characters, philosophical cogitations and that distinct, greyish hue to the picture – all are present and correct. The French aren’t known for their horror movies, but when they do make them, their whimsical, melancholic over-intellectualisation of cinema suits the genre right down to the ground, especially here, where the action is confined to one cell, and the story tightly built upon the interaction between its four occupants: Carrère – dodgy businessman and the film’s protagonist; Daisy – a moron who eats everything, including his six month-old sister; Marcus, a violent pre-op transvestite; and Lassalle, a thinker who murdered his wife over breakfast.
When Carrère finds the journal of the insane former occupant of the cell, the lunatic magician Danvers, the inmates begin to read from its pages, unleashing dark forces, forcing them to deal with the consequences of their own desires.
Claustrophobic and dark, Malefique belies its small budget with some carefully chosen special effects. Only annoying info-dumping towards the end spoils the show, but it is soon forgotten in the sinister light of the film’s finale. It isn’t perfect but, rather like a, ahem, ‘date’ with shady Gauloise-smoking Parisian lady, you’ll enjoy your 90 minutes.
Did you know?
A producer asked that the writers substitute Danver’s journal with an e-book! Film idiocy, it seems, is not confined solely to the halls of Hollywood.