Malum Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Screenbound Pictures

malum poster large

Directed by Anthony DiBlasi
Written by Anthony DiBlasi and Scott Poiley
2023, 92 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Released on 26th March 2024

Starring:
Jessica Sula as Jessica Loren
Eric Olson as Will Loren
Candice Coke as Dianne
Chaney Morrow as John Malum
Britt George as Officer Grip Cohen
Sam Brooks as Officer Price
Clarke Wolfe as Dorothea
Morgan Lennon as Kitty
Danielle Coyne as Birdie
Kevin Wayne as Nate
Natalie Victoria as Marigold

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Review:

It’s 2023 and we’ve come to a pretty awesome place where horror is not only red hot but also surprisingly at peace with the remake. I think we can all agree at this point there have been a slew of fine re-imaginings/alternate interpretations of films that are often classics in their own right. What can (and probably will) be debated until the end of time is whether or not a remake is “necessary”. It’s the old adage about not screwing with perfection, right?

Anthony DiBlasi’s 2014 breakout hit Last Shift is one of those films that hits all its marks with purpose and ruthless efficiency. I fell in love with this gem when my dear editor force-fed it to me a few years ago. I still thank him for it to this day. I would have said that it’s a film that has zero need for a remake, and I’d be making a perfectly accurate statement. However, when you consider it’s DiBlasi himself (along with writing partner Scott Poiley and his wife, Natalie Victoria, returning as Marigold) writing and directing the remake, you’re now dealing with one of the most intriguing projects in years. It’s literally a case of coming back nearly a decade later with a bigger budget to tell the story once more in a richer, fuller way. For a filmmaker, it’s a dream do-over. For we horror fans, it’s must-see TV.

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Rookie cop Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula; Split) has volunteered for the last shift at a now-decommissioned police station to be her first shift with the Lanford Police Department. She has an ulterior motive, however – her father, Officer Will Loren (Eric Olson; Raising Helen), is at the heart of the dark history of the now-defunct police station. That history is drenched in the blood of the cult of John Malum (Chaney Morrow; Wrong Turn), and Jessica has just become locked in with all the residual evil of the cult members’ suicide on the one-year anniversary. To make matters worse, the streets are alive with new cult members bringing madness and death. What’s a rookie cop to do? Can she survive the last shift?

Malum isn’t a shot-for-shot remake by any stretch of the imagination, neither is it a wildly different take on a central theme. The story beats, imagery, and intensity all remain the same; the biggest difference comes in the form of Will Loren’s backstory and his role in it. “He was a hero until he wasn’t…” is a rock-solid and reliable story hook. Adding that flavor changes the narrative while somehow managing to make it even more balls-out crazy.

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Malum is Last Shift leveled up. It steps on the gas harder than its predecessor without sacrificing the humanity of Jessica Loren. Changing her up to a heroine who’s actively disliked by her peers because of who her father is adds a layer of drama that isn’t there in Last Shift. In that film, the father’s story is more or less an expositional connection. In Malum, that story is the sun at the center of the expositional galaxy, providing a much deeper mythology and backstory (not to mention true sequel potential).

There’s a metric fuckton of blood and guts on display. There’s also a whopper of a pig with unholy symbols drawn in blood on his back. As we all know, when there’s an unholy pig about, all bets are off. The nightmare is about to get real. You’re also treated to a hanging/decapitation with all the fixings, some seriously gnarly leg SFX, plenty of lovely headshots with various weapons, and one of the most insane finishes you’ll ever see.

Then there’s the Temple Baron.

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Not since Pan’s Labyrinth has there been a demon that leaps off the screen and into your nightmares like this bastard. The creature design is utterly signature (thanks to the mad geniuses at RussellFX, Josh and Sierra). It is without a trace of hyperbole that I say this creature needs to be front and center on a Fangoria cover. Quote me on it, stamp it, make it happen. In a film with some memorable imagery and multiple demon looks, this bad boy is on a level all by itself. You’ll never look at a pentagram quite the same way again.

Malum is one of those rarest and most wonderful of anomalies – a totally unnecessary remake that improves on the extremely minor flaws of its progenitor while injecting steroids into horror that was already pretty damn potent. The mythology is deepened, and now there is more story to be told. Maybe we should redefine the word necessary.

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Malum and Hunt Her, Kill Her double feature is in UK cinemas from 26th April 2024

Grades:

Movie: 5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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