Review: Malum


Title: Malum
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Anthony DiBlasi
Starring: Jessica Sula, Candice Coke, Chaney Morrow
Runtime: 1 hr 32 mins

What It Is: A young rookie cop named Jessica Loren (Sula) is determined to find the reason as to why her father commited suicide years before. She signs up for the late shift at the same base where he took his own life, patrolling the hallways and coming across strange folks and paranormal happenings as she investigates the story behind a strange, violent cult and their dangerous leader John Malum (Morrow), of whom her father had arrested. As circumstances become more dire and riots in the city outside rage on, Jessica finds herself in a deeper plot than she thought she could handle, and finds herself just trying to survive the night.

What We Think: Say it with me kids: be skeptical of the hype, especially when all the hype is coming from Tiktok. I love movie recommends and this one popped up on my radar, but when it comes to opinions on Tiktok, I’ve only been getting burned (with an exception for someone recommending Children of Sorrow, I actually liked that one). In order to get some fuller context of why this was merited as a remake of its original, I dove in and watched its predecessor, Last Shift. The plots are the same, settings the same, but there were a lot of things that were also very different, and… not in a great way. Firstly, having watched Last Shift, I can say it’s a solid scary movie with some good creeps, but nowhere near something I would think needs a dedicated Funny Games-style revamp from the same director. What’s also an interesting little tidbit is the antagonist cult leader’s name was changed from Paymon to Malum, which is reasonable considering the possible association the film might have with Hereditary if was titled the former, and Malum also has a fairly nice ring to it. Going from the original to Malum, there are a lot of things that are oddly… downgraded. Despite there being a bit of an upgrade, I can’t say there’s that much of a facelift for Malum. Honestly… everything is just worse. While Last Shift was passable, Malum was just straight-up mediocre, especially having to compare to the original. The only thing that drastically improved? The marketing and the posters.

Although both versions are silly, Last Shift plays a little more seriously with a much more rewarding, taut pacing–versus Malum, which feels too long, and story elements, though seemingly a little more expanded, feel repetitive. There’s one scare in Malum that felt cool and creative, but the rest fall short, are easy to get used to, and are forgetful. Last Shift at least made better use of different practical elements and scares, including practical effects and costuming, which also for some reason, felt way cooler and more volatile than in Malum. The acting wasn’t as convincing either, not saying that Last Shift’s cast and characters were the strongest either, but at least the weakest, cheesiest characters (the cult members) had a shorter screen time. The lead actress in LS had a performance and character that was more subtle and felt more realistic, while Sula’s version was written with more context and backstory and a different, more stubborn, arrogant personality that made her harder to relate to.

Our Grade: C-, I don’t know if I have the heart to fail this movie, because someone out there might like and enjoy it, especially if they haven’t seen Last Shift or for whatever reason thought expanded lore was a good reason to completely remake it, only adding more cult scenes and backstory. In my opinion, that was the biggest downfall of Malum is that not only is it plainly not scary, if not LESS scary than the original, but overcomplicates things to the point where all the gaps feel filled in and there’s not really a need to find out where the plot leads. Although I did like how it ended a bit better than Last Shift, it still left me feeling pretty flaccid, leading me to think that for whatever reason this film falls short, there’s already a better version of it that existed and this just didn’t need to be made. I would’ve liked to see what original work the filmmaker could have made on this budget and see him make a critical breakthrough, but this one ain’t it.

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