Malefique (2002)

Prisoner’s rights are a real hot button with people these days, for when it comes to criminality and the justice system, the views that even people who claim to be liberal and forward thinking hold, can completely alter the way that you perceive them after they start talking about capital punishment being the answer to everything.

For instance, take a pro-lifer who spouts that every life is precious, who when reading a news article about a paedophile, suddenly rails into a diatribe about how hanging is too good for ‘people like that’, and describing in gory detail the things that should be happening to that sex offender if they had their way. So every life is precious, huh …

There are different levels of criminality, and each individual case is different. A shamefully high percentage of them are proof that a broken system, can lead to broken people, who in turn go on to break others. Some paedophiles are just joining up a circle of abuse that started in their childhood, some murderers were desperate victims backed into a corner by circumstance, some offenders are mentally ill, driven to crimes by an inability to afford the medication they need to be stable and well, and yes, some inmates are just doing it because they enjoy inflicting pain and seeing others hurt. What we must remember though, is that some of them, are innocent victims of a miscarriage of justice, and should not be there at all.
Proof that the system does not always work, and is completely imperfect, and if you deem it morally right to take another life, for any reason (other than being in One Direction), then what separates you from the criminals you are murdering?

Oh yeah, paperwork.

The whole point of the justice system is punishment and rehabilitation – for a criminal to pay their debt to society by doing their time and then being released to begin their new (hopefully rehabilitated) life. Society has forgotten this though, and blames the criminal for their early release, successful appeal and so on. It is not the criminal who is to blame after their time is done, it is the justice system. A judge and jury of our peers meted out punishment and it has been carried out. If the sentence was too lenient it is the law makers fault, not the criminal who merely followed the guidelines set out in our laws.

Four very different prisoners are sharing a cell together when they discover an interesting distraction to their petty squabbles among the four walls they inhabit. An occult text which after proving it’s abilities begins to give them the idea that the power to escape lies within its pages. You don’t go to prison for being completely trustworthy, as we all know, and putting the a spell book in the hands of a criminal probably isn’t going to have a happy ending for everyone.

For such an outlandish premise, Malefique manages to be extremely gritty and disturbing. The relationship between Marcus the thuggish and deeply complex, transsexual , and his protégée
Pâquerette is both repulsive and endearing, while the viewers position is the same as Carrère, dropped into these strange surroundings and finding your way along with him. This film is excellent, not shying away from the reality of prison life, and the differences between individuals, while still retaining it’s supernatural theme. Thought provoking and thrilling to the bitter end, it’s bound to please fans of Lovecraft and even Barker, Eric Valett really cut his teeth in what, is very nearly a masterpiece of the genre.

Fans of occult thrillers and supernatural horror will definitely get a kick out of this and by the time the credits roll, I think we can all agree on one thing – some people should really be behind bars …

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