It is rare to see a film remade at the hands of its original visionary, but for the 2014 horror film Last Shift, director Anthony DiBlasi felt it necessary. Malum follows a similar storyline as the original but expands the mythology behind the terrors and breathes new life into an underrated film.
Rookie police officer Jessica (Jessica Sula) has a simple first assignment at the old station, tasked with watching over the place as the rest of the squad works from the new facility.
Just a year ago, a veteran on the force, Jessica’s father, rescued several young women from a murderous cult. But after his heroics, he did the unthinkable before killing himself.
She wants to feel connected to him at his former station and begins looking into the events surrounding his death. As she finds evidence of the cult, she is also plagued with disturbing calls and fears the remaining members are looking to harm her. The more time she spends in the station, the more she questions her reality as she sees horrific visions.
I briefly covered Last Shift in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a disturbing film that builds great tension, rewarding you with solid jump scares and haunting imagery. One scare in particular stuck with me afterward and certainly will leave some sleeping with the lights on.
It was such a treat, especially for a low-budget film, but of course had flaws, much of which related to some of the unanswered questions. Luckily, Malum keeps much of the same tone, style, and frights — just adding to the deeper narrative.
Instead of building Jessica’s backstory through exposition, it gives us an unsettling opening sequence that shows what happened and a peek at what’s to come. It expands on the cult at the center of the chaos and what their demonic motives were, or are.
The film plays with your perception of reality, giving this film a real psychological edge beyond scares. With warped perspectives and visual twists, it keeps you second-guessing everything, just as Jessica does.
And while DiBlasi builds a stronger narrative, he clearly wanted to build up the gore too, adding more gruesome effects in this incarnation. Last Shift packs great practical gags, but Malum amps things up to a new level.
For all the improvements with Malum, I missed the slow burn that Last Shift had when Jessica starts her shift. It shows the monotony of having to sit in this defunct facility, and I think it aids in the psychology as she’s exhausted and perhaps only seeing things because of that.
Another thing the original does better is it had a much stronger ending with a pretty shocking twist, but this new version leaves a door open for further exploration, should DiBlasi want to. But both films are certainly worth a watch, providing ample creeps, and I’m glad the people behind it were able to make this more polished version.
Malum hits theaters March 31, 2023
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