If you leave for work early enough and stay until after 5 there's a good chance you're not seeing much of the sun at the moment so we'd like to take your mind off all that by suggesting you watch a film set almost entirely within a small dark cramped cell.
Malefique is an overlooked little shocker from France that has been saved from obscurity by our friends over at Frightfest. We had no idea what to expect when loading up the preview disk, but it's a safe bet that we weren't expecting anything this good... French genre movies tend to be very overblown affairs - sometimes that works brilliantly as with the jaw dropping Brotherhood of the Wolf (which saw us in Tri-corner hats long before Johnny Depp made them all fashionable and shit) while at other times it's just nasty and nonsensical as with Haute Tension (aka Switchblade Romance). Malefique sidesteps all that by just keeping its head down and delivering a damn good little horror flick with some very memorable scenes both bizarre and nasty.
Somewhere in France four men find themselves cell mates in the kind of prison that doesn't have much in the way of amenities, but plenty in the way of bugs and rugged old stones probably laid there around the time of the Revolution - Porridge this is not. Our anchor here is new fish Carrere, the kind of white collar criminal who has it all figured out - a few weeks inside until his lawyer steps in and then a lifetime of living on his ill gotten gains with his wife and son. His cell mates are a decidedly odd bunch - Marcus the burley transsexual with Fight Club style Bob-breasts and a thing for Daisy his sometime lover and all-of-the-time fruit loop who is escaping one part at a time as his fingers are hacked off and thrown through the cell window so he can spend a few nights in the hospital which he likes. The old timer of the group is Lasalles, a librarian who killed his wife because the books told him to. Nice bunch, and this is before the black magic kicks in.
Carrere adapts quickly to the quirks of his new friends, but things take a turn for the weird when they discover an old notebook hidden in the wall that may offer them a way out. When his own plans start to go array Carrere has no choice but to agree to help them work out exactly what the book wants them to do... we know it's not going to be pretty because we saw the last time the book was used at the film's opening and it was burnt and eviscerated corpses galore.
This is a neat little chiller - never oversteps its budget but manages to aim high by concentrating on the characters rather than the gore (something Haute Tension failed miserably at). It's inventive and has some nice squidgy special effects that bring to mind the better parts of the Hellraiser franchise and a final twist that is more Roald Dahl than anything else.
We haven't seen any of the extras yet, but we did see the loving attention given to Irish zombie cow flick Bad Meat by the Frightfest team (in fact a copy of that movie was part of our Birthday raffle) so we're looking forward to checking out the commentary recorded only a few weeks ago here in London featuring Eric Valette in conversation with Alan Jones. The DVD is out on the 21st of November at £19.99.
And if the Festival and the DVD releases weren't enough Frightfest is also taking a few spades and buckets of blood along to the seaside for its first Brighton based showcase as part of the Brighton Film Festival. If we can wrangle a couple of copies of Malefique from the powers that be without having our limbs twisted inside out we may set up a competition in the near future...