Sunday, June 26, 2011

Horror Film Review

Malefique (2002):  French horror flick!  Yay, right?  I mean, lately I've begun to wonder if France can do no wrong in the scary movie department.  Malefique (it means "evil" by the way) isn't really wrong, but it sure ain't all right.  Notice I didn't say, "deal with the subtitles?"  There aren't any.  They dubbed it.  Grrr....

It starts out gross.  Years earlier, prisoner Charles Danvers (Geoffrey Carey), a man obsessed with eternal youth, tries using black magic to achieve his goal.  He digs into the belly of his cellmate with his hand and writes symbols on the wall in blood.  He says some kind of incantation, the symbols glow, and then...fade out to present day.

Four guys share a dank, roach-infested prison cell.  Carrere (Gerald Laroche) is the new guy, a white collar criminal who's expecting his wife to bail him out.  Ironically, she bails on him.  Lassalle, an older guy who killed his wife during "two minutes of insanity," is the strong, silent type but also creepy.  Transsexual Marcus (Clovis Cornillac) is short tempered and a bit of a bully, but he's protective of Paquerette (Dimitri Rataud), a seriously messed up dude who eats things he, books, his six-month old sister.  Yeah.  Ew.  I know.  Anway, they find Danvers' journal and after tinkering with some spells that work (Paquerette's fate can only be described as karmic) decide to use it to escape.  As you may imagine, things go just a bit awry. 

There was a point in this movie where they simply lost me.  Trying to explain here would be a waste of your time.  I will say that the black magic does give what's asked of it.  Danvers, we learn, did get his eternal youth.  They show him de-age down to a fetus and then sort of...dissolve.  It's one of those "careful what you wish for" deals.  What happens to Carrere, though, is something straight out of an old episode of The Twilight Zone.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but this is a feature film, not a 50 year-old TV show. 

The Breakdown

Acting:  Um...that's a tough one due to the dubbing.  The voice actors are decent, except for whomever dubbed Rataud's character.  Shrill and annoying as hell.  Have I mentioned I loathe dubbing?
Story:  Interesting idea.  Something Hitchcock might have liked to tackle.
Direction:  Despite the tight confines (96% of the action occurs in the cell), director Eric Valette somehow manages to make it work. 
Production Values:  I read they had a budget of one million euros.  What the hell did they do with it?  The cell looks great, sure, but how much could that cost?  And it's not like they had to pay Jean Reno or Gerard Depardieu.  The only thing I can think of is...
Gore/FX:  The black magic effects are good, so they couldn't have been cheap.  There is some gore that'll make you squirm but not hurl. 
Scares:  None to speak of.  This is more of a suspense vehicle.
The Ending:  It's a head-scratcher.  Except for the twilight zone thing with Carrere.
The Verdict:  Malefique was well-reviewed by critics.  Of course that means nothing to us normal humans.  So should you see it?  If it weren't for the dubbing, I'd be more inclined to say "yes."  It isn't without interest, I admit...  Ah, heck, give it a go.  Let me know what you think.  Maybe you can explain to me what happens with Lassalle.

My Rating2 out of 5 stars.

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