This French film (my version is dubbed) is very character-driven with a fast-paced mystery that keeps you on your toes. It is about four men who share a prison cell and the black magic they unlock. Marcus is a transvestite, only about half way through the gender changing process. He has huge breasts, but this domineering guy is man everywhere else. His little shadow is Paquerette, a dim-witted, idiot savant. Paquerette eats everything in sight, including his infant sister. Carrère is there because he has committed some sort of white collar, corporate crime. And lastly there is Lassalle who is the quiet intellectual who has killed his wife. These quirky and bizarre characters are so intriguing; so much so, that I wish the film had time to expand on their back stories a little more. These characters really drive the plot forward.
Carrère is the newest member of this twisted family. Soon after his arrival, he discovers an old journal behind the brick of his bunk. The journal belongs to a serial killer named Charles Danver. He was so obsessed with youth that he began killing pregnant women for placentas before he was imprisoned in 1920. Carrère reads a passage from the journal only to realize that he has awakened some form a black magic. The inmates work together to uncover the mystery, hoping the spells will lead to an escape from their wretched cell. Unfortunately, the journal contains something much more sinister.
This is a really unique film and it is a joy to watch with such a fascinating plot, but it leaves much to be desired with some unanswered questions. There seems to be a theme about losing limbs in this film that is intriguing but goes unexplained. I wouldn’t call this a horror movie but there are some horror elements, especially when it comes to a particular body mutilation scene of arms and legs twisting by an invisible force until the body collapses and crumbles into a bloody heap. My biggest issue, though, is that I want to know MORE. More about everything. Especially serial killer, Danver, and his sick story. Regardless, Maléfique has one of the more inventive plots I have seen in a while. Those who like fantasy genre films should enjoy this one.
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