Malum, directed by Anthony DiBlasi, has brought new life to the underrated psychological horror story in 2014’s Last Shift. Written by DiBlasi and Scott Poiley, the film stars Jessica Sula, Candice Coke, Natalie Victoria, Clarke Wolfe, Monroe Cline and Kevin Wayne. Malum brings twists, gore, tension & more to the screen. The film arrives in theaters on Friday, March 31st.
Malum focuses on a rookie police officer who willingly takes the last shift at a newly decommissioned police station in an attempt to uncover the mysterious connection between her father’s death and a vicious cult. Throughout the night, she finds herself barraged by terrifying supernatural events while unveiling the truth behind her family’s twisted past.
Malum grabs you from the beginning and rarely lets you go. From the start it invests in a background we didn’t really get a lot of in Last Shift and explores grief, secrets and the horrors of the unknown. There’s a lot to dig into with each major part of the film and Sula gives a stellar performance that helps guide you through the major plot points. The storyline was something I was excited to see again in this new light the film offered.
The practical effects were outstanding and brought the horror up a notch. Because of this, the visuals stay in the mind and follow you long after credits roll. The mixture of distressing silence with fleeting bits of sound from the police station setting is perfectly unnerving. There’s something so vulnerable about horror films that center around isolation or abandoned settings that Malum picks up on so well. The twists and turns are still present like they were with Last Shift, which felt vital to this film maintaining or even surpassing the psychological aspect of horror. The sins of both parents followed the child in this story.
The story of Malum was expanded in a variety of ways with a majority sections being good but one or two small decisions felt out of place. Including Jessica’s mother in-person in scenes instead of just on the phone was a smart move. Although the mom’s connection to the events unfolding felt slightly rushed at times when everything began unraveling in the third act. The deeper connection of the main character to the horrific history of the precinct felt more grounded towards the end luckily. Initially Jessica recognizing the reality of her past felt slightly off and rushed when first introduced but it gained solid ground towards the end. What did feel rushed was the ending. The surrounding performances from other cast members were chilling. Absurdity and horror can mix really well when done right and Malum does exactly that.
Malum develops that feeling that double-checking that dark spot in the corner could lead to horrific results. Don’t worry, that’s a good thing. The visuals are a wild ride full of dedication to detail and making the audience continue to stay in an unsettled state of being. Jessica is a character who pushes through so many obstacles and the writing shows how loved she is. But what makes her character that much better is the willingness to have her go through hell (in more ways than one). There’s a realistic nature to the treatment of Jessica’s character and how these events plague and follow her even during some of the most chaotic supernatural events.
Over all, Malum gives its audience every ounce of effort a horror fan could hope for. It’s not a flawless film, but it recovers from any minor flaws with expert visuals and a deep understanding of how to build up the main character in horror. This is a film I’ll likely grab a physical copy of the moment it is released, it’s worthy of my horror shelf for sure.
Malum (2023) Rating: