Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Clovis Cornillac, Gérald Laroche, Philippe Laudenbach, Dimitri Rataud
Directed by Eric Valette
Distributed by BCI Entertainment
Now that J-Horror has seemingly run its course by reaching the saturation point, America now turns to another country to find its next big scares. This time it's France. With such great films as Them (review here) and Inside (review here) hitting DVD, the land that's home to fine wine and romance is flexing its terror muscle in a big way. The latest flick to join in on the foreign based fun is 2002's Maléfique (roughly translated: bad influence), and while it doesn't pack the same amount of punch as those other movies, it still stands solidly on its own two feet.
We meet Carrère (Laroche) as he's saying goodbye to his wife and child. After using his company to commit fraud, Carrère is being sent to prison until his wife or his lawyers can bail him out. After seeing his truly curious cell mates, an old and murderous librarian, a child-like loony who will eat anything, and a transsexual muscle-head with massive man boobs, our hero is counting the days to his release. Unfortunately his wife decides to screw him by seizing control of the company and leaving him to rot away in jail. With nothing left Carrère sinks quickly into a very angry downward spiral. Then it happens. A mysterious journal from the Twenties is discovered hidden in the walls of the cell. It tells the tale of an inmate who found a way out of the prison by using black magic. Finally! The means for escape. All our quartet has to do is decipher the riddles, say the words, and wait for an exit. However, something gets lost in translation along the way, and the book proves to be more of a weapon than a godsend.
Maléfique is a movie that's been compared to classics like Hellraiser and Cube, and though it shares a few similar themes, it never reaches the levels of greatness that those two films did. At times Maléfique is thoroughly creepy, and even somewhat gory, but these moments are spaced few and far between. Most of the movie's ninety-minute run time is spent watching our prisoners bicker, preen, eat, and just generally be miserable. Don't get me wrong; the flick is much better than the usual crap that's churned out onto DVD here in the States on a regular basis, and it's totally worth a look. However, I'm willing to bet there will be at least a couple of times when you will find yourself either checking your watch or thinking about fast forwarding. Believe me, I was at that point, but it turned out to be wise to resist those urges. Maléfique's ending more than makes up for the pacing issues and pulls a few tricks out of its sleeve that you're not likely to forget.
Speaking of forgetting ... did someone forget that most DVDs have at least some supplemental materials included? You know making-ofs, etc.? Here we get two trailers, and that's it. Given BCI's sterling track record when it comes to piling the extras on thick, we'll let this affront to the video gods slide this time. This time! *waves fist in stern manner*
For those wondering about the language options, you can check out the flick in French with English subbys or subject yourself to a horridly dubbed English track.
Getting to see horror offerings from other countries is truly the spice of video life. Considering most of what we're getting here is pretty lame, these slices of exotic cuisines are nothing short of ... *kisses fingers* ... magnifique!
3 1/2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5
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