Bloody Mallory Review, Analysis, and Wow
Shortly before 2002, a young Julien Magnat was fresh out of film school. His only claim to fame was an Academy Award nominated short, The All-New Adventures of Chastity Blade. But somehow, he got a bunch of serious and impressive people to help him make his first feature film, Bloody Mallory. It is one of the silliest films I’ve seen in a decade. And I do mean that as a compliment. If you don’t enjoy this film, I fear that you’re dead inside.
The set-up in Bloody Mallory is that there is this paranormal team that runs around France killing ghouls, demons, vampires, whatever. They are made up of a psychic child who can transfer her consciousness into other people and animals (voiced by Thylda Barès and on screen by her and several other actors). There is a transgender woman (Jeffrey Ribier) who has two primary concerns: her gorgeous nails and killing demons (check out her pumps). There is also a man who dies at the beginning — kind of a Sam Spade characters. He is replaced later in the film by a more interesting man (Adrià Collado).
And then there is Bloody Mallory (Olivia Bonamy), who dresses like a sexpot, and kicks major butt. She got that way after marrying a demon who she ended up killing on their wedding night. I’ll come back to this shortly, because it’s actually what I want to talk about.
The recently elected pope has been kidnapped. The Catholic Church has no one to turn to but Mallory and company. And she isn’t really very keen on the job. Both she and the transvestite are pretty clear that they don’t agree with his stance on contraception. Nor, I should note, are the French people who come to see the pope speak before he’s kidnapped. But Mallory takes the case because she thinks it is involved with the attack that took out her Sam Spade guy. The rest is just plot, including a reversal that I didn’t see coming, probably because I was having so much fun watching the film.
Bloody Mallory Has Something to Say
But what really elevates this film from the simple romp that it would be (which I would still highly recommend) is the relationship between Mallory and her dead demon husband, played by Julien Boisselier. (He’s unnamed — the credits just say, “Avec dans le rôle du mari”: in the role of the husband.) Because she killed him when he was in the form of a human, he is forced to roam Limbo. Because of Chapter 37 of the Necronomicon, he’s forced to come to her when she calls. But according to Chapter 37, Section D, he is only required to answer one question. Very legalistic those demons!
But he comes around at other times, because the two of them are clearly still in love. It’s like Romeo and Juliet. She’s a Capulet (Catholic) and he’s a Montague (Demon). But really: love conquers all — even if you have to hack your husband to death with an ax. It’s really quite sweet. I rarely like romantic subplots in movies, but I loved this one.
Good and Evil
Still, there is a deeper level that it works on. By marrying a demon, her blood was contaminated. So she isn’t completely Good. But she has fought since her wedding night against the Evil that lives within her. And at the peak of the film, she is forced to literally fight with her Good and Evil sides. She wins, of course. And there’s even a vague kind of reconciliation of Mallory and her husband at the end. You know the Vera Lynn song:
But think about this. Bloody Mallory, this bubble gum movie made to delight the 5-year-old in you, is saying that both Good and Evil are wrong. Thematically, the film is rabidly anti-Christian because it says, “To hell with Original Sin!” It also implies that heaven and hell are just two places to hang out. If David Byrne is right and heaven is a bar where nothing happens, then hell is too — it just has more bikers in it.
A Fun Romp With a Moral Lesson
I love this idea, because the main practical effect of the Abrahamic religions is to make humans feel bad about the fact that they are humans. Bloody Mallory pushes a distinctly eastern idea of wholeness: yin and yang in the Abrahamic context. It isn’t heavy-handed. How could it be? This is, as I noted, one of the silliest films I’ve seen in a decade. But you’ll learn more about morality from it than from a typical Sunday sermon.
The DVD comes with an English track. I appreciate that. But unlike the Italians, the French have never taken dubbing seriously. And the voice acting in English is decidedly worse than the original French acting. In addition, the dubbed dialog is often decidedly worse than the subtitles. So sad as it is for me to say, you really should watch the French version with subtitles.