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Maléfique (2002)

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In a penitentiary, four prisoners occupy a cell: Carrère, who used his company to commit a fraud and was betrayed by his wife; the drag Marcus and his protégée, the retarded Paquerette, who... See full summary »



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Title: Maléfique (2002)

Maléfique (2002) on IMDb 6.4/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gérald Laroche ...
Philippe Laudenbach ...
Dimitri Rataud ...
Didier Bénureau ...
Hippolyte Picus
Félicia Massoni ...
Claire Carrère
Geoffrey Carey ...
Charles Danvers
Paul-Alexandre Bardela ...
Hugo Carrère
Boris Lutz ...
Danvers jeune
Nelson Jourdan ...
Danvers enfant
César Castagné-Favali ...
Danvers bébé
Yves Arnault ...
Le Directeur
Benjamin Haddad ...
Le Gardien de Prison 1
Thierry Cazal ...
Le Gardien de Prison 2
Olivier Bouana ...
Le Gardien de Prison 3


In a penitentiary, four prisoners occupy a cell: Carrère, who used his company to commit a fraud and was betrayed by his wife; the drag Marcus and his protégée, the retarded Paquerette, who ate his six months sister; and the intellectual, Lassalle who killed his wife. One night, Carrère finds an ancient journal hidden in a hole in the wall of the cell. They realize that the book was written by Danvers in the beginning of the last century and is about black magic. They decide to read and use its content to escape from the prison, when they find the truth about Danvers' fate. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 May 2003 (France)  »

Also Known As:

A mágikus könyv  »

Box Office


€1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Visa d'exploitation en France #104465. See more »


Referenced in Entre quatre murs (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Recommended to curio hunters and "pure" horror fans, delivers on its promise to be "malefic"
9 November 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Maléfique is a very interesting movie. It is an unholy alloy of triumphs and failures. The central concept is great, three inmates with bizarre personalities are joined by a fourth (who the audience identify with) and they try to escape from their cell using a book of magic that they find within the walls of the cell.

The atmosphere is well-woven, it reminds me of reading about the prison stay of Edmond Dantes' in the Château d'If (prior to becoming the Count of Monte Cristo). The director sets up the feeling that the characters are tied to the cell, particularly the character we are meant to identify with (Carrère - a white-collar criminal whose crime is not specified, but it's obliquely suggested might be fraud). On one occasion Carrère dithers when leaving the cell for exercise and has the cell door shut on him; we never leave the cell, the claustrophobia is unbroken. There are also no shots of the prison outside the cell, and the view through the bars is a longing sunset over a generic prison wall. So even though the film appears to be very modern, it has a very old world feel of incarceration.

The characters are intriguing. We have Marcus, a violent pre-op transsexual who plays an abusive mother to Pâquerette (French for Daisy) a heavily retarded young man. Pâquerette likes to eat everything he finds beautiful, and unfortunately this included his baby sister, hence his current predicament (I like this comment on internalisation, very primitive). Lasalle is a withdrawn, possessed elderly man, in for brutally murdering his wife.

The central message of the movie is that your desires will annihilate you, and there's a ritual that goes with that. I think that's what disturbs me the most, seeing people destroying themselves ritualistically. It has a real life ring to it. The quite simple soundtrack backs this up well, every step deeper into the quicksand is accompanied by the dull ringing of a gong. I'm actually hearing the gong now every time I do something self-destructive.

I think one of the plot problems is that the ends of the characters don't really reinforce the message consistently, particularly with Carrère, also the concept of the book seems to alter throughout the film, not in terms of a successive revelation either. I also think that some of the images we see are a bit amateurish, more by design than execution, such as the famous "vagina eye", and the sodomy of Lasalle, for me, totally hollow images.

At the end the movie it feels like the director is in a rush to get it over with, and some things don't seem logical, for example we've been clumsily led to believe different things about Carrère's child. This doesn't change the fact though that what we have here is that rare bird, a "pure" horror movie. There is no comedic dross or genre segueing, like Cube (1997/Natali), the obvious movie to compare it to, it's a total immersion experience, where you feel as if you are in the cell with the characters. This last comment I make about it being a "pure" experience I think is something others have mentioned as well so that is a fairly unanimous point.

On a personal note my favourite part of the film is when Lasalle talks about his past as a librarian. He very vividly describes a scene where he goes to work one day and sits down in his usual place in the centre of a room where all the books are arranged in a circle around him. The books seem to be chanting to him that he will never contain their knowledge. This prompts Lasalle to go insane. That really is the problem with an obsession with understanding and knowledge. It's something I myself have felt.

One final comment is that two of the quite well-received comments on the board have confused the characters' names. To convince yourself that Lasalle is the older librarian character, simply click on Philippe Laudenbach's page and you will see he was born in 1936.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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