Tagline: Evil Has a New Enemy.
When I think of off-the-wall horror/comedy films, rarely do the French spring to mind. But that’s exactly where this guilty pleasure of a movie originates from. Featuring an international cast, Bloody Mallory aims for cult status with an eclectic blend of martial arts, manga attitude, and lots of girls in brightly-colored wigs.
At the dawn of the third millennium, a group of Anti-Paranormal Commandos is led by Mallory (Olivia Bonamy), a beautiful monster hunter with hot red hair and an equally hot pink hearse. Rounding out her group is Vena Cava (Jeffrey Ribier), a towering transvestite who also happens to be an explosives specialist, and Talking Tina (Thylda Bares), a blue-haired pre-teen who’s mute, telepathic, and has a 360 IQ. When Pope Hieronymus I (Laurent Spielvogel) is kidnapped, Mallory and her gang must team up with a Vatican bodyguard, Father Carras (Adria Collado), to battle ghouls, fallen angels, succubi, and a vampire of the French aristocracy named Lady Valentine (Valentina Vargas). If they succeed, the world is saved. But if they fail, an ancient prophecy will be fulfilled and mankind will disappear from the earth forever. Sound funky? Well, that’s because it is.
While I’ll certainly give screenwriters Stephane Kazandjian and Julien Magnat (who also directed) credit for originality of plot, much of the script is flat, uneven, and fails to elevate the film beyond simple low-budget fare. There are times that Mallory looks and sounds like a really well-made *** o (without the sex, of course), but it’s still hard to hate a movie which includes lines like The Popemobile is waiting downstairs or Vena Cava and Talking Tina, stay with the Pope. It’s so absurd that it has a certain charm all its own. What a shame that so many of the interesting ideas are never full realized.
The look of the film, although obviously low-budget, is still one of its strongest points, and the manga influence is obvious throughout. Right from the beginning, we’re treated to two very nice shots. The first is Mallory chasing down her demonic husband (Julien Boisselier) with an axe (seems she unknowingly married a demon and he wanted to sacrifice her on their wedding night), and the second is a beautifully rendered shot of the Paris skyline with gargoyles prominently displayed in the foreground. These two moments really set the tone early and give viewers a taste of things to come.
The costuming is top-notch, with each outfit adding to the wearer’s personality and attitude. There’s also the fact that none of the main characters go with their natural hair color. From bright red to neon blue, we can once again see the heavy influence of Japanese animation on the look and feel of the film. One can’t help but wonder if the director would have cast actors with unusually large eyes if they had been available.
But while the trippy mish-mash of styles and colors may work in the visual department, it proves to be an impediment in other areas. Just when you think the movie is going to get all dark and heavy-handed, something completely absurd happens. Then, when you start digging the comedic aspect of Mallory, it throws you another curve ball and changes tone again. Director Julien Magnat described his film as a gothic comedy. I prefer to call it a mess. The lack of a consistent tone hurts the picture in the long run, never allowing the audience to settle into a comfortable rhythm. While it still has its moments, I only wish that they would have picked a genre and stuck with it. I guess they were trying to do what Buffy the Vampire Slayer or From Dusk Till Dawn did. Unfortunately, viewers of Mallory will quickly realize that those films did it far better.
One notable exception is the relationship between Mallory and her dead husband, which is played out over the course of the film. Even though she chopped him up with an axe and consigned his soul to limbo, Mallory continues to contact him via ritual for critical information. These scenes are nicely done, and the audience can tell that this couple still grudgingly cares for one another, despite their history of violence and betrayal. This culminates when Mallory is near death and her ex-husband holds the key to her salvation.
The action sequences are about what you’d expect from a low-budget film, although there are some respectable special effects and computer animation. But the action is usually brief, and there’s not as much of it as one might hope. And if you’re looking for a lot of gore, look elsewhere. With the exception of a few interesting moments (exploding nuns), the blood and guts are kept to a minimum.
The cast does an adequate job considering the level of film they’re in, although most seem doomed to toil in B-movies for the duration of their careers. The standout is the film’s star, Olivia Bonamy. Clad in red leather and sporting a variety of weapons, Bonamy is able to look action-ready while still maintaining a ton of sex appeal. She also does a respectable job in the action sequences (unlike, say, Kristy Swanson in Buffy) and seems to be having a campy good time. It’s hard to gauge how much acting talent she actually has, as the film simply doesn’t require that much from its lead. But she does have a strong screen presence and knockout looks, so she’s already ahead of the game.
Overall, Mallory will most likely be a disappointment for those looking for high art or a top-flight genre film. But if you’ve lowered your expectations and simply want a few laughs and something to watch while you eat a bag of popcorn, then this may be the movie for you.
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