Malefique (2002 film)

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Scene from Maléfique (2002 film)...

Maléfique, AKA Malefique (2002)


"Will you escape alive?" Four imprisoned convicts find a mysterious tome hidden in the wall of their cell, and use it to conjure up an escape plan to follow its owner out of their prison cell and into the unknown.


  • Release Date: 2002
  • Country/Language: France, French
  • Genres/Technical: Fantasy, Horror
  • Runtime: 1 hr 30 min
  • Starring: Gérald Laroche, Philippe Laudenbach, Clovis Cornillac
  • Director: Eric Valette
  • Writer: Alexandre Charlot and Franck Magnier (scenario), François Cognard (idea)
  • Producer/Production Co: Bee Movies, Fidélité Productions, Film Office
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • IMDb page: (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: (not rated) (I would expect some Violence, Profanity, and Adult Content)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; could be a very loose adaptation)

(Barely) two tentacles for a vaguely "Lovecraftian" premise and some "Yog-Sothotohry" name-dropping.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Doomgenerationdotcom (link) - "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. ... I want to know MORE. More about everything. Especially serial killer, Danver, and his sick story."
  • Derrick Carter at For The Love of Celluloid (C-) (link) - "Maléfique does a good job in setting up its characters and the one-room setting of the film. ... The Lovecraftian angle is very intriguing... The ... problem with Maléfique is that it drags its feet at every turn. ...the unfocused pacing feels like there was a solid idea here for an excellent short film or an anthology segment, but there’s not enough material put into this premise to make a satisfying feature."
  • Michael Helms at Digital Retribution (3/5) (link) - "From The Evil Dead and The Beyond to the more recent The Ninth Gate, pieces of literature with supernatural powers have crept into horror cinema to form a subgenre in their own right. Malefique takes all that's gone before it and improves upon it ... to deliver one of the finest horror experiences..."
  • James Mudge at BeyondHollywooddotcom (link) - "The film has a grimy, shadowy feel influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, which makes for a very creepy and unsettling atmosphere."
  • Eric Penumbra at Prisonmoviesdotnet (2.5/5 Stars) (link) - "...there’s ... blood and gore quite properly associated with the horror genre, but the men’s characters – and not the special effects – remain at the heart of the film. Well crafted and well acted."
  • Richard Scheib at The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Review (3/5 Stars) (link) - " It all amounts to a strong and well made effort, certainly different and better than most of the other formulaic fare out there."
  • John Schatzer at Bloodtype Online (3/4 Stars) (link) - "This is a different kind of horror movie. It engages you with interesting characters and gets you to like them, or at least empathize with them. Then it proceeds to do terrible things to them..."
  • Frank Showalter at Frank's Movie Log (3/5 Stars) (link) - "What begins with echoes of Lovecraft ends like an episode of Tales from the Crypt. Imagine a film that took these characters—one imprisoned in his body, one in his mind, one in his wealth—and explored their prisons and the lengths they would go for freedom. Maléfique is not that movie. It’s not a bad film, just a disappointing one."
  • Y.Whateley - "Not a bad film, but it is a rather unambitious thing that feels like an over-long episode of Night Gallery (1970 series), with what is essentially a (spoilers) Overly Literal Genie story (/spoilers) played out with a little body horror and Lovecraftian name-dropping; that is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does leave me wishing there was a bit more to it than was delivered, and wondering what the likes of John Carpenter (In the Mouth of Madness (1994 film)) might have made of essentially the same basic premise of a handful of convicts who discover a Lovecraftian tome hidden in their prison cell, and attempt to use it to escape...."


 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

Four imprisoned convicts - a rich businessman imprisoned for corruption who wishes to see his son again, an aggressive and violent partial transsexual who wants to become a woman, a "nitwit" who wants to have his fingers severed and eat everything (including his infant sister), and a scholar who wants to know everything there is to know - find a mysterious journal book hidden in the wall of their cell, and use it to conjure up an escape plan to follow its owner into the unknown. Most of the film is spent in characterization and atmosphere; by the time the actual escape attempt finally occurs near the end of the film, the characters discover that the spells in the tome do nothing to help them escape, but rather merely allow unseen Dark Powers to deliver a twisted version of whatever the convicts most want.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

Associated Mythos Elements

  • TO DO
  • tome: Journal of Charles Danvers, a tome of black magic written in the 1920s in French, Latin, Greek, and unknown languages, theoretically focused on eternal youth, but also containing spells for opening gates to other worlds and for (perversely) fulfilling one's deepest desires
  • entities: Aztarot, Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, Hastur, Ezkiel (dark forces name-dropped in journal text and spells)

Keeper Notes