Malady Movie Review
Written by Daniel Evans
Released by Random Media
Written and directed by Jack James
2015, 93 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
VOD release on 11th July 2017
Roxy Bugler as Holly
Kemal Yildirim as Matthew
Jill Connick as Lorelai
Gary Cross as Paul
Ellen Carter as Danielle
Bret Easton Ellis says in his book Less Than Zero that “People are afraid to merge”, something the characters in Malady also struggle with. But when Holly (Roxy Bugler) and Matthew (Yemal Yildirim) do eventually meet and “merge” then starts an unforgettable psychological experience, one that seeps its way gently under the skin, to grab at tattered nerve endings as this strange story ebbs its way along its dreamlike narrative current.
Holly, wracked with uncertainty, but acting on her dying mother’s last wish to find love, hooks up with Matthew and without very many words spoken, they find themselves awkwardly preparing for a one night stand, which somehow turns into a several night stand, becoming ever more entwined as each night progresses.
Matthews’s mother suddenly becomes ill and Holly is insistent they go and be with her. Now Matthew and his mother seem to have a relationship that Norman Bates would be jealous of. She is domineering and far more terrifying than your average movie monster could ever hope to be, and a monster she is, with an outer shell seemingly human, what lies underneath is pure hell; you can see her cruelty bubbling away in her skeletal frame, a true place for condemned thoughts to seek their shelter. Bitterness seems to burn in and out of her, and Matthew is a result of this madness. He is almost silent throughout but his feelings manifest themselves in physical, mostly sexual, actions. They stay together all under one roof for the remainder of the film, every wisp of movement is amplified to extreme heights, every footstep one of impending doom, and episodes such as the excruciating scene where the naive and unsure Holly has to wash Matthews mother, keeps your nerves shredded.
Don’t come looking for anything resembling a straight ahead plot, it is exchanged for a rolling mood piece, There’s minimal dialogue and no background information to speak of, we know very little of Matthew and his mother’s seemingly ominous past. The camera films mostly everything in stuttering close-up and doesn’t give us much of a glimpse of the surrounding world; this is highly uncomfortable but effective and claustrophobic, helped along by a score which at some points resemble a baying horde of wasps encircling the celluloid world in which these characters inhabit. There’s also a sense of body horror, Holly and Matthew seem to melt into each other and their love is totally void of romance and as they progress everyone seems to just decay. Some may not appreciate the vague nature of the story and the impossibly difficult atmosphere created, but the atonal nightmares within, especially in Jill Connick’s performance as the mother, will last for a very long time.