Indie horror filmmakers really have their work cut out for them. They have a limited budget to bring their stories to life. If they’re lucky, they are able to bring their vision to the screen and the film finds its audience. Writer and director Anthony DiBlasi was able to achieve that with a film he co-wrote with Scott Poiley titled Last Shift. While the film didn’t have huge box office success, it was generally well received by critics upon its release and has since garnered a cult following of horror fans.

It’s rare that indie filmmakers achieve this kind of success, but it’s even more rare that they are given the opportunity to recreate that magic. DiBlasi and Poiley were able to bring their story to life again under the title Malum with a bigger cast, bigger budget, bigger effects, and bigger plot. In many ways, the general plot of Malum is the same as its predecessor. A rookie cop starts her first night on the job guarding a recently decommissioned police station, but this station has a dark connection to her father and the sadistic cult he brought to justice. There are even some scenes and bits of dialogue that are exactly the same as Last Shift. When it comes to the plot, the filmmakers took this opportunity to really expand on the mythos around the cult. This addition not only helps to add quite a bit more suspense, but it also helps add context to certain events throughout the film and how the rookie cop is connected to it all.

While overall the plot in Malum feels more cohesive than its predecessor, there are still some lingering questions. There is a near constant mind game being played and it becomes difficult to discern reality from imagination. While that does add to the intrigue, as well as the scares, there are some things that could have used a bit more explanation. Since this was also a minor issue in Last Shift, fans of the original will likely already expect this going into Malum, but those coming into the film with fresh eyes will likely wish things were just a bit more clear.

As part of expanding the plot, there is also a lot added to the visual aspects of Malum. For one, the police precinct is much larger and almost feels like a labyrinth. Despite the large space, it’s easy to get the sense of claustrophobia as the audience is ensnared in the confusing, dizzying corridors. In Last Shift, there was plenty of great makeup effects to create nightmarish imagery. Within the first ten minutes of Malum, the filmmakers dial up the gore and practical effects to a ten. From ghastly wounds to horrifying demonic entities, there is no shortage of grotesque, eye-catching practical effects to make your skin crawl.

Malum has a larger cast than Last Shift, yet the majority of the film rests on the capable shoulders of Jessica Sula (Skins, Split). Sula plays rookie cop Jessica Loren. Officer Loren has something to prove, not only to herself, but to those around her as well. She chose to take the shift at the old precinct because of its dark connection to her father, who was also a police officer. Loren must try to solve the mystery of her father and the cult while also trying to survive the evil within the precinct walls. Sula delivers a powerful performance that shows emotional range as the audience follows her along her journey of discovery and survival. Honorable mention also goes to Chaney Morrow (Wrong Turn 2021, Haunt) as the ominous cult leader. While Morrow doesn’t necessarily have a large role, the time he has on screen is memorable in how he is able to exude evil through the screen.

Malum is a frightening reimagining of Last Shift that manages to deliver more plot and excess gore. DiBlasi didn’t have to remake this 2014 cult classic horror film, but what he was able to do really shows his growth as a filmmaker as well as his ability to create a great film no matter the budget. Everything from the expanded plot to the wonderful practical effects to Sula’s performance help to make this film a terrifying ride. Whether comparing the two films or looking at Malum on its own, it’s clear to see that this is a horrifying piece of cinema to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.


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