by Hope Madden
Equal parts Assault on Precinct 13 and The Shining by way of Charles Manson, Anthony DiBlasi’s Malum is a quick, mean, mad look into the abyss.
Jessica Sula stars as a rookie cop whose first night on the job is a babysitting gig, so to speak. The new station is up and running and all she has to do is sit tight at the old station, redirect anyone who stops by, and wait for morning. So far, so Carpenter.
Jessica (her character’s name, as well) actually requested this stint because her dad, a hero, ended his career in this very building and she just wants the two careers to overlap, if only for one shift. But the cult that her father put an end to one year ago tonight has designs on Jessica.
DiBlasi is reimagining his own 2014 flick Last Shift, although it feels more like a riff on Carpenter’s 1976 Precinct 13 than anything. Regardless, what the filmmaker does is confine the audience along with our hero in a funhouse.
As the film wears on its nightmarish vibe intensifies. Weird characters and genuinely unsettling scenarios play out, some of them predictable but most of them surprises. The jump scares work, the gore plays, and the creature effects are top notch.
Inspired supporting turns from Natalie Victoria, Sam Brooks and Kevin Wayne keep the bizarre tensions building and Sula’s grounded, understated hero holds the mayhem together well
Malum gets nuts, exactly as it should. Though it never feels genuinely unique, it manages to avoid feeling derivative because of DiBlasi’s commitment to the grisly madness afoot. The result is a solid, blood soaked bit of genre entertainment fully worthy of your 92 minutes.