Dir. Anthony DiBlasi (2023)
The police officer daughter of a deceased cop volunteers to serve the last shift in a precinct that is closing its doors in an attempt to investigate the connection between his death and a mysterious murder cult.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
It’s exceptionally rare that a horror movie is remade by the same director who made the original, probably most notably Michael Haneke’s Austrian film Funny Games and the American remake that he did ten years later with Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. Anthony DiBlasi, who made the film Last Shift that this one is based on, decided to make Malum because his original film went straight to video and missed out on the audience that it deserves. I absolutely loved Last Shift, so I have zero problems with him doing another take on the film, and Malum had everything that the original had and then some.
Malum tells the story of a young police officer, Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula), who has volunteered to run the last shift at an old precinct that is being closed down. Her father Will (Eric Olson), who was also a police officer, saved three teenagers from a deadly cult exactly one year before her shift, and then proceeded to have a psychotic break, murdering several police officers before killing himself. She has taken it upon herself to investigate the precinct before it closes down, looking for anything that could have caused her heroic father to snap and take his own life, and boy does she find some stuff. As she investigates the desolate building, the town is thrown into chaos as surviving cult members begin wreaking havoc, and the dangerous cult leader John Malum (Chaney Morrow) just may be seeking his revenge from beyond the grave.
One of the things that struck me most about Last Shift was how fucking scary it was. I’m not one to usually be frightened by horror films, but holy hell was it impressively terrifying. Malum takes all of the scares from the original and cranks them up to 11, ratcheting up the tension and delivering some excellent gory setpieces and some incredibly creepy scenes. Morrow is fantastic as cult leader Malum, and Sula does a wonderful job as the young police officer experiencing the worst shift imaginable. DiBlasi knows how to create some terrifying visuals, and he is in rare form from almost beginning to end in this one, because Malum is legitimately scary throughout.
Don’t get me wrong, Malum is not a perfect movie. There are some issues with the sound design at times, and its non-linear plot can be a little confusing as Jessica struggles with the surreality of being attacked by deceased cult members and literal demons. It’s also a good bit more cruel than the original, with some hard-to-watch scenes of mayhem that are delivered as terrifyingly as possible. By and large, however, it is a phenomenal film that is legitimately scary, which is not something that most horror movies can claim. The visuals are downright chilling, and the frequent sound of the cult members singing is unnerving to the core. It is equal to the original in terms of being legitimately good horror, and the first one was fantastic, so that’s saying a lot. If you get the chance to check this one out, I cannot recommend it enough, and it’s different enough from Last Shift that both should be practically required viewing.
Who this movie is for: Remake afficionados, Last Shift lovers, Actually scary movie fans
Bottom line: Malum is perhaps even scarier than the original (Last Shift) and certainly does more with its plot, and while it’s certainly not a perfect movie, it is downright terrifying. Director Anthony DiBlasi has become almost a master of visual horror, and I’ll be first in line to check out everything he makes because he is phenomenal. The acting is pretty good in this one and the storyline is chilling to the bone, with demons, man-eating pigs, and cult members galore. This has all the makings of being one of the most impressive horror features of the year, and if you get the chance to check it out at an AMC theater near you, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s also going to have a video game adaptation coming soon from Welcome Villain called Flock of the Low Gods, and I can’t wait to check that out too