Spoiler- Free Film Review: Malum (2023)

April 4, 2023

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected]. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Director Anthony DiBiasi’s Malum is a remake of his own 2015 film The Last Shift, which I considered one of my 10 favorite horror films of that year and which did something that few horror films from recent years before that had done: watching it at home alone with the lights off, it made me consider turning them back on several times. Could DiBiasi capture that same unrelenting eeriness again here?

Several filmmakers have reimagined their own works. For example, my favorite Korean film, The Housemaid (1960) was revamped not once but twice by its director Kim KiYoung. The main question at play for these efforts is usually “But why?”, and that is certainly a valid consideration here. DiBiasi seemingly received a larger budget for Malum than The Last Shift, and perhaps there were elements that he felt could have been better served with a bigger budget. But more money does not necessarily mean a better film, as has been proven many times before. What is the verdict in that regard here? 

The basic set-up of both films is similar: A rookie cop watches over a police station on its last night before closing, and incidents involving a murderous cult took place there in the past. With Malum, that police officer is Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula), whose police captain father Will Loren (Eric Olson) was considered a hero for rescuing three girls from being murdered by a cult — that is, until he killed several fellow officers in that very precinct.

Shunned by the officer in charge of the station and by the officers in the nearest station with whom she has phone contact, Jessica is left to fend for herself as odd things begin happening, such as a homeless man (Kevin Wayne) working his way into the station in search of someone, and a pig roaming around the premises. Matters are about to get worse, as cult members are making their presence known at the nearby station, and Jessica finds some extremely disturbing footage involving her father and the cult.

The ultimate question with Malum is basically whether The Last Shift needed to be remade or not, especially less than 10 years after the original’s release. I would say possibly not, because I had such a blast with the first outing, but since it has been redone, there is plenty on display in Malum that makes it worth a watch. It looks fantastic, and fleshes out its plot more than its predecessor did, leading to a rather insane third act. The special effects, including a great deal of the red stuff and practical gore effects, are highly impressive.

Viewers who have a soft spot for the original should find plenty to appreciate with Malum, and those who haven’t are in for a wicked, wild dose of nihilistic fear fare.



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