Friday, October 14, 2011

Horrorthon 3: Day Fourteen: Maléfique (Eric Valette, 2002) -- C

Pervert A Man Escaped to include four loopy characters, black magic nonsense, and an ending with Child's Play implications (awesome, at that), and you have Maléfique, less compelling horror film than one-trick hokum. Belonging to a subgenre of subsequent films to include Saw, Buried, Devil, Pontypool, The Disappearance of Alice Creed, and Exam (among others), director Eric Valette concentrates the growing dread and satanic implications into one space - a prison cell holding four considerably different inmates. Carrère (Gérald Laroche) is a career family/businessman serving time for fraud; Marcus (Clovis Cornillac) is a transvestite (is that his crime?), egging on retard protege Pâquerette (Dimitri Rataud), who apparently ate his six-month old sister (you read correctly). Finally, Lassalle (Philippe Laudenbach) murdered his cheating wife - but also holds knowledge about a book found in the gents cell, containing the (mad?) ravings of a century old inmate, who believed he could use satanic forces to escape the cell. Naturally, the book's teachings prove true; utilizing various symbols and commands, the odd-foursome can cause blasts and fire, potentially leading to a successful escape. They also learn (unfortunately for them), that the author's spirit remains alive in the book, angered when it's put in jeopardy, and seeking violent vengeance against anyone who attempts to extinguish it. If the exposition is tiring to read, it's even more so to watch, as Valette plugs along with his supernatural inclinations, without any greater sense of self or purpose. Moreover, even on a basic narrative level, the characters are silly and transparently manufactured - their choices and backgrounds are irony-filled, rather than causal. Nevertheless, the final implications are almost hilarious enough to warrant a look - but that would mean slogging through the rest of it - an insignificantly conceived bit of gorehound inanity.

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