Starring Roxy Bugler, Kemal Yildirim, Jill Connick
Directed by Jack James
Jack James’ first directorial leap, titled Malady, comes off as a dark daydream-like vision that focuses heavily upon the inability of some people to connect with others. It’s a gloomy, insanely heavy delve into a social negative that can afflict many, sometimes spiraling into horrific situations.
The film centers around a young woman named Holly (Bugler), whose mother has recently passed away, and her loneliness draws her towards a mysterious fellow named Matthew (Yildirim). Together they begin to feed off of each other’s introverted and antisocial behaviors.
As if Matthew’s already stunted public mannerisms weren’t enough to make someone question his sanity, he’s been ostracized from his own family and covets a lock of his sister’s hair – together, this couple is enough to creep anyone out, bar none.
After the two have been spending a bit of time together, the news from the homefront is a bit distressing: Matthew’s mom is seriously ill, and the duo heads off to pay her a visit, completely unaware of what awaits them inside her home. What starts off as a slow-moving thriller begins to gain some speed and flashes into a psycho-sexual freak-show, and while some horror fans could look at this and wonder where the scares are at, the beauty is that the majority of what puts the chills down your spine is what is seeded way in the back of someone’s mind.
Both characters are so intently twisted in a multitude of ways, the essence of schizophrenia is always on the back burner, or could it be simple mental fraying due to traumatic instances? Even Matthew’s mother is a couple cans short of a six-pack, and her actions towards her own child were enough to give me the heebies – even thinking about it now…YUCK.
The pairing of Bugler and Yildirim is one that works to an excessive, yet powerful level, and you’ll be wondering if these two are solely meant to hurt each other or rely on one another to simply get by each passing day – it’s a frightening dynamic that should keep any viewer guessing through the film’s duration (and after as well). The only issue is one that more than a handful of watchers could deem as a minus, and it’s the film’s pacing – some scenes took far too long to shift out of neutral, and if you’re not all that into an atmospheric overload, then this might not be your cup of tea.
Overall, Malady implies exactly what it’s going after: to warp your brain with scenes and instances that will make some of the most ardent psychological-thriller fans cringe in their seats, but more so it’s one of those films that requires multiple viewings. Make sure to dive deep into this one if you have the opportunity.