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Malum Review: Recycling Last Shift Yields Mixed Results

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The horror genre is no stranger to remakes and reboots, but it’s unusual for a reimagining to appear on the scene within a decade of its source material. This brings us to “Malum,” an updated version of Anthony DiBlasi’s 2015 film “Last Shift.” Armed with a more substantial budget and a theatrical release, “Malum” introduces key changes to the narrative, refining and heightening the stakes of the original story. But does this revamped tale surpass its forerunner or fall short?

A quick recap of “Last Shift” takes us to the tale of Jessica Loren, a rookie cop assigned the last shift at an old police station on the brink of permanent closure. As the night unfolds, Jessica is haunted by supernatural events and forced to face the demons lurking in her past. Fast forward to 2022, and we have “Malum,” a reimagined take on the same story by the same director.

“Malum” boasts a bigger budget and targets a theatrical audience. The exposition is more fleshed out, and Jessica’s backstory undergoes significant revision. The film opens with her police officer father, who recently rescued three young women from a sinister cult, succumbing to some unseen force or internal torment.

The most notable divergence between the two films lies in the element of mystery. “Last Shift” maintained an air of enigma that kept viewers in suspense until the final act when the story truly unfolded. Regrettably, “Malum” loses this captivating quality, opting to elucidate the supernatural underpinnings at play. The plot is more linear, with the stakes more pressing than merely observing the protagonist meandering through the station, anticipating the next fright.

Despite these flaws, “Malum” has its shining moments. The cinematography by Sean McDaniel is masterful, utilizing lengthy corridors, cramped spaces, and stark fluorescent lighting to evoke an unsettling atmosphere. Jessica Sula’s portrayal of Jessica Loren is praiseworthy, as she skillfully escalates her character’s psychological and emotional turmoil throughout the harrowing night. Moreover, the well-executed jump-scares deliver a thrilling impact, making for some engaging scenes.

That being said, “Malum”‘s formula becomes predictable and monotonous, with some scenes feeling rehashed. The buildup to the climax leaves a few newly introduced storylines unresolved, with the third act devolving into a gratuitous display of gore and grisly makeup, detracting from the movie’s established sense of mystery and apprehension.

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“Malum” is a respectable film with several enhancements over its predecessor, but it falters due to its diminished mystery and overemphasis on gore in the final act. It’s worth noting that director Anthony DiBlasi’s choice to revisit his own film so soon after its initial release raises questions about the state of originality in the world of cinema.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5.0

Malum is in theaters, March 31st.

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