Malleus Maleficarum is a creepily beautiful short film written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Torin Langen. As the name implies, it’s about witches: specifically, a female witch and her friend, both of whom have lost their humanity. They try to recruit the friend’s brother to join them in terrorizing other people; to no avail. The brother still feels the very human emotion of compassion, and is punished for it in the end.
The short is well-filmed: the camera is steady, the shots are deliberate, and the picture looks beautiful. One of the interesting things about Malleus Maleficarum is that there’s no dialogue. When you make that choice as a writer or director, then you need both actors who can tell the story with their body language and facial expressions, and a director and writer who can tell a complete story solely with action and setting. All of these elements exist in Malleus; in fact, Langen really pulled off the “no dialogue” and created one hell of a silent movie. The actors do a great job communicating through their facial expressions, action, and body language. In fact, the lack of dialogue had me paying a bit more attention as a viewer than I might at other times, because if I wasn’t watching closely, I’d miss something. The only thing that was a bit odd were the panicked panting and crying sounds made by the people being hurt or running away: they stood out in a film in which the actors otherwise made no noise at all, and I can’t decide if I think it’s okay or not.
Malleus Maleficarum is a sort of follow-up movie to one of Langen’s earlier shorts, Fondue, and if you watch both, you’ll see how much Langen grew as a writer and director in between the two films. I also have to comment on the music. The music was composed specifically for the movie, and it really helps to create the mood and bring the story along. I was very impressed by the amount of effort that was put into making both films (even though I’m only reviewing Malleus here), and would definitely say that the hard work really paid off.
Currently, Malleus Maleficarum is doing the film festival tour, so it’s not available to watch online. If you’d like to see it, check out Candle Flame Films’ Facebook page, and see if it’s coming to any festivals near you. It’s possible there will be a limited edition release of the film in the fall, but nothing’s definite, so for now just take my word on the festival thing.