The Movie Waffler New to VOD - MALUM | The Movie Waffler

New to VOD - MALUM

New to VOD - MALUM
A rookie cop is terrorised in a soon to be closed police station.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Anthony DiBlasi

Starring: Jessica Sula, Eric Olson, Chaney Morrow, Candice Coke

Malum poster

Malum sees director Anthony DiBlasi remake his 2014 horror movie Last Shift with a larger but not excessively so budget. Both films share the same basic setup, that of a rookie cop spending a night alone in a police station a year after it was the scene of a disturbing event that claimed the life of their police officer father. I haven't seen DiBlasi's earlier film but a quick scan of its Wikipedia synopsis suggests the new version doesn't make too many changes, but I'm guessing Last Shift doesn't feature the level of FX work on display in Malum.

The film opens with some grisly police evidence footage of cult members filming a group of teenage girls they've abducted. We then cut to a police station in the aftermath of a raid on the cult, where three of the kidnapped girls were rescued, but it was too late to save a fourth. Officer Will Loren (Eric Olsen) is congratulated by his fellow cops for his key role in the raid, but he's unable to join the celebrations as he blames himself for not saving the fourth girl. Arming himself with a shotgun, Will goes on a psychotic rampage, killing several cops before blowing his own brains out. His final words are an instruction to tell his wife Diane (Candice Coke) and daughter Jessica (Jessica Sula) that he's sorry.

Malum review

Exactly a year after the massacre, the police station in question is set to be shut down. Jessica is now a rookie cop and has volunteered to man the station alone on its final night. Estranged from her now alcoholic mother, Jessica is desperate for an explanation of why her father committed such an atrocity, and she hopes she might find answers in the station. What she finds initially is hostility from a senior cop who accuses her of being a sicko for taking this post after her father's actions. After a quick tour from this gruff asshole, Jessica is left alone.

The night starts quietly enough with just a drunken homeless man loitering outside for Jessica to deal with. But then she begins to receive prank calls threatening to kill "pigs." When an actual pig with a pentagram drawn on its back in what looks like blood is left outside the station, Jessica decides it's more than a prank and calls the new station for help. She's met with more hostility and told they have their hands full dealing with cult members protesting around town. Left alone, Jessica explores the station and uncovers some disturbing evidence. She also has terrifying visions, initially put down to a toxic leak (the reason for the station's closure), but as they become more lucid Jessica fears something malevolent is toying with her mind.

Malum review

From Rio Bravo to Assault on Precinct 13 to Let Us Prey to this year's Jericho Ridge, police stations have proved popular settings for siege movies. Malum gives this old trope a fresh twist by having the siege come from within the station rather than from antagonistic forces trying to breach its walls. It isn't so much about Jessica trying to stop something from getting inside as it is about her attempts to get out once she realises she's trapped.

DiBlasi does a good job of building an eerie atmosphere in his film's first half as things slowly escalate. In the second half however the film descends into a series of nightmarish visions that keep ending with Jessica waking up as though she just momentarily dozed off. At a certain point the movie loses its effectiveness because we're constantly second guessing everything that happens to Jessica and assuming the horrors we're witnessing are just part of another dream sequence. By the time Jessica has to face a tangible threat the film has cried wolf so many times that we've stopped caring.

Malum review

I have a suspicion Last Shift might be the better version of this story for the very reason that DiBlasi didn't have the budget to fill his earlier movie with so many FX sequences. From what I've read his earlier attempt relies more on suspense and suggestion, which I always find more effective. The second half of Malum resembles a haunted house attraction more so than a film, as DiBlasi throws one FX creation after another in Jessica's path. The effects are admittedly impressive and bear the influence of DiBlasi's former mentor Clive Barker, with a final demon that could be a rogue cenobite. But the excess suggests DiBlasi was determined to to use up every last cent of his bigger budget. The more Jessica is splashed with blood, the more Sula's empathetic performance, which had been the film's greatest asset, is drowned in a sea of spook show shenanigans.

 is on UK/ROI VOD now.

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