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Movie Review: “MALUM” can’t live up to director’s original “LAST SHIFT”

Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | Reviews


For years now the dreaded remake/reboot/reimagining treatment has been applied to some of horror’s most beloved and enduring properties. In many cases, the common question asked by most fans is, “Why?” What value can be brought by retelling a story that already works? In the case of Anthony DiBlasi’s MALUM, it comes as an attempt to improve upon his own story, remaking/rebooting/reimagining his 2014 film, LAST SHIFT.

Perhaps there’s merit to be found in his attempt to beef up his own work, but there’s also merit in leaving well enough alone, and while MALUM has a small handful of effectively scary moments, it fails to achieve the level of suspense and eeriness DiBlasi previously accomplished in LAST SHIFT. While it may seem unfair to compare the two films, seeing that they came from the same director (and co-writer, Scott Poiley), it’s near impossible not to.

The setup is simple (or, it should have been…). Rookie police officer Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula) takes her first post standing guard at an old, abandoned police station where some nightmarish goings-on occurred the year prior involving a Satanic cult, some pigs, and Loren’s father. The film stumbles in attempting to tack too much on to this premise, stealing away opportunities to build suspense and replacing them with questions that never get answered.

As Officer Loren, Sula gives everything she can to what she’s given. She’s effectively scared when she needs to be, she cries convincingly, and she delivers some realistic responses to her (poorly-written) drunken mother, Diane (Candice Coke). Sula is given the unfair task of carrying the bulk of this clunky film by herself, but unfortunately the film’s constant jumping around from past to present and hallucination (maybe?) to reality leaves Sula little opportunity to give a balanced performance.

That’s perhaps MALUM’S biggest flaw: it feels like a doomed balancing act. While LAST SHIFT thrived on dead space and longer sequences of tension-building, MALUM cuts right to the point, over-explaining and muddling up plot points that worked best when left ominous and implied. While it is no masterpiece, LAST SHIFT is effectively scary. It proves a great example of what a small budget film can do when it stays within its means and gets creative with its budgetary restrictions. Story wise, it explained just enough and lead to a satisfying (albeit cliché) ending, while MALUM explains too much and still leaves its audience unsure of what they’ve just seen.

While there is a noticeable improvement in dialogue in MALUM, it’s still on the stale side. A completely out of place fat-shaming thread that adds nothing whatsoever to the story is distracting and, frankly disappointing. A welcome appearance by Natalie Victoria, reprising her role of a wise, sassy sex worker named Marigold in LAST SHIFT, says some weird things that also do nothing to further the plot, then disappears unceremoniously. Additionally, some confounding costume choices and a distractingly electronic score (by Samuel Laflamme) bring the film down as well.

If only it were possible to combine the best points from each film into one. Somewhere between these two “just-okay” movies, there’s an actual “good” movie. If LAST SHIFT was perhaps a second draft of a screenplay, and MALUM was around a fourth or fifth, it may have been best to have settled on the third draft and just made a movie out of that one.


Ricky J. Duarte
Ricky is a writer, actor, singer, and the host of the "Rick or Treat Horrorcast" podcast. He lives in a super haunted apartment above a cemetery in New York City with his evil cat, Renfield, and the ghosts of reasons he moved to NYC in the first place., @RickOrTreatPod