Malum review | A gorily effective horror remake

malum review
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A young rookie cop faces the worst shift of her life in an abandoned police station. Here’s our review of the indie horror, Malum, in cinemas now. 

Most of us have done nightmarish shifts at work. Regardless of your industry, no one is immune to a bad day. Maybe a customer yelled at you, you had to clean up a mess of something yucky, or perhaps everything that could go wrong, just went wrong. 

Still: I doubt any of us have experienced quite as bad a shift as Jessica Loren does in Anthony DiBlasi’s Malum

Malum is in fact a remake, or more of a reimagining, of DiBlasi’s 2015 film Last Shift. Remaking your own film less than 10 years after it was released might seem silly, but Malum manages to successfully squeeze more out of Last Shift’s deceivingly simple premise. 

The basic idea and plot are the same in both films. Jessica Loren (played by Jessica Sula) volunteers for a shift at an old police station, which is about to be permanently closed. The reason she’s doing this is because she wants to feel closer to her father, also a cop, who went on a violent murder spree after arresting a charismatic cult leader and saving three women. 

malum king of hell
Credit: Screenbound Pictures

Things progress. She quickly begins to experience weird things. A homeless man breaks into the station, wildly shouting “Still here!” and Jessica sees things that aren’t really there. Is the station still haunted by the cultists, all of whom are supposedly dead? Good question. Answers are forthcoming in the film.

Perhaps inevitably, if you’re a fan of Last Shift – which proved you can do a lot with a small budget and clever filmmaking – Malum will probably please you too. It’s similar, but it also feels fresh, a new take on the premise. Several details have been changed, including the demon at the heart of the narrative. Going spoiler light, it’s the success of Ari Aster’s Hereditary that led to the alteration there, given that film was on reasonably similar grounds at times to Last Shift. Malum thus has a surprise or two, even if you’ve seen the film it’s based on.

In terms of performance, Sula makes for an empathetic lead. She’s got the difficult job of carrying the entire film, but she proves to be a powerful presence. She carefully toes the line between authority and vulnerability as the supernatural occurrences get worse and worse. DiBlasi also smartly weaves in shades of current attitudes towards the police, especially in the US.

As for the tension, DiBlasi mostly relies on traditional jumpscares. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; a well-crafted jumpscare is an effective way to get your audience on the edge of their seats. The scares are very well crafted here. In fact, much like Immaculate, Malum is both terrifying and fun. 

Malum is also very violent and gory. The spectacle will very much appeal to my fellow gorehounds, but I was troubled by who was subjected to the violence. It seems that mostly women suffer in Malum. It’s pronounced and notable enough to feel just a little off. 

Malum does offer plenty of frights and thrills. It somehow manages the impossible of not only being a decent remake, but also doing something different as well. Impressive considering both films were made by the same director. It could have done with a bit less misogynistic violence to my eyes, but there’s still much to like here. 

Malum is now in cinemas and also playing as a double feature with Hunt Her Kill Her. Malum + Hunt Her Kill Her will be released in UK cinemas from 26th April 2024 followed by a digital/physical home-entertainment release on 27th May 2024.

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