Malefique (2002)
By: Michael Helms on May 3, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). French DD 2.0 English Subtitles. 86 minutes
The Movie
Director: Eric Valette
Starring: Gerald LaRoche, Philippe Laudenbach, Clovis Cornillac, Dimitri Rataud, Didier Benerau, Felicia Massoni, Geoffrey Carey, Paul-Alexandre Bardela, Boris Lutz
Screenplay: Alexandre Charlot & Franck Magnier from an original idea by Francios Cognard
Music: Eric Sampiere
Tagline: Will You Get Out Alive?
Country: France
On the floor of a charnel-house a charred body lies smouldering. A man puts his hand inside the gaping chest wound of a body which is still moving. Gathering 'ink' he writes on the wall. He begins to recite strange words. The symbols written in blood begin to glow and white-out the screen. And so we enter the strange claustrophobic, demonic, and murderous world of Malefique, a deadly serious French horror flick that matches the black arts with long term imprisonement to chilling and extremely welcome effect.

After a brief interlude in a bright, safe, fluoro-lit meeting space we are introduced to the residents of a tiny and grimy four bunk prison cell where most of the action takes place. Without delay the shocks roll on as the large, aggressive and obviously transexual Marcus immediately removes the finger tip of his cell mate Daisy. We soon discover the reason for this activity. The older and low-key Lassalle only looks on impassively. Carrere is the new guy, the man we met in the waiting room who has been detained for a white collar crime that in the first instance, he's supremely confident of beating. All naturally dream of escape but survival in this brutal, bug-infested hellhole is the main order of the day. One night Carrere discovers an ancient journal behind a loose brick in the wall. It had belonged to notorious serial killer Charles Danvers and contains his heavily coded writings. Danvers, who had disappeared from the exact same prison cell in the 1920s, had been obsessed with eternal life and had specialised in killing pregnant women for their placentas which he used to manufacture creams. The appearance of Danver's book then begins to erode the already twisted dynamics of the group as the mystery of it deepens and madness descends. With Daisy's all-seeing porno collage looking on, the mayhem really kicks in.

Besides everyday grossness like Daisy's ability to swallow anything (he was imprisoned for eating his sister) some of the mayhem includes finger crushing, transexual breast-feeding, body spaghetti, and bloody manual emasculation. Suffice to say it all ends in an unexpected but highly satisfying way as 'escape' is achieved but not wothout cost!
Virtually filmed in total gloom with minimal lighting throughout (a video camera is introduced late in the piece for some crucial pov shots that almost lighten up the proceedings) visually Malefique is pure dark horror with no shades of light that weren't apparently created by a computer. The quality of black or rather the brown of the general production design are what really gives this flick it's constant creepy edge. Things really do come out of the dark here and I'm not talking unstable pixels.
A gloomy Eric Sampiere music soundtrack makes for a perfect accompaniement to the downbeat and frequently shocking visuals. The AC-3 Dolby reproduction is sufficient without being mindblowing.
Extra Features
The trailer.
The Verdict
From The Evil Dead and The Beyond to the more recent The Ninth Gate, pieces of literature with supernatural powers have crept into horror cinema to form a subgenre in their own right. Malefique takes all that's gone before it and improves upon it (even straying into another soon to be revived subgenre of horror for it's final visuals) to deliver one of the finest horror experiences to be released on DVD this year. Malefique is highly recommended.
Movie Score
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