(director/writer: Anthony Diblasi; screenwriter: Scott Poiley; cinematographer: Sean McDaniel; editor: Anthony Diblasi; music: Samuel Laflamme; cast: Jessica Sula (Jessica Loren), Candice Coke (Diane), Chaney Morrow (John Malum), Natalie Victoria (Marigold, prostitute), Britt George (Officer Grip Cohen), Valerie Loo (Anna Cole), Monroe Cline (Betty), Clarke Wolfe (Dorothea), Morgan Lennon (Kitty), Eric Olson (Will Loren), Kevin Wayne (Nate, homeless man), Christopher Matthew Spencer (Officer Hudson), Danielle Coyne Birdie), Sam Brooks (Officer Price); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Anthony Diblasi/Scott Poiley/Dan Clifton; Unwelcome Villain/Vudu; 2023)

“I’m afraid the new version, despite a bigger budget and added scares, is not better than the old version-just more glossy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Malum means evil in Latin. The horror pic is an expansion of the low-budget 2014 Last Shift that was also directed by Malum’s Anthony Diblasi (“Extremity”/”Her Last Will”), who is a fan of Clive Barker. Malum is co-written by Diblasi and Scott Poiley. But I’m afraid the new version, despite a bigger budget and added scares, is not better than the old version-just more glossy.

Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula) is a rookie cop who reports to work on her first day to the same police station where her father Will Loren (Eric Olsen) worked. A year ago her dad saved three girls from a Manson like demon-worshiping cult and its evil leader John Malum (Chaney Morrow), who was killed by him. But when he couldn’t save a fourth, he suddenly went psycho killing a few of his fellow cops with his police gun and then himself. The daughter never understood what snapped in dad and is looking for answers.

Jessica receives frightening prank phone calls to the station from women saying they plan on killing “pigs” at the police station, but the calls can’t be confirmed.

With the plot unfolding as a possible similar one to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, the film moves along with disturbing CGI visuals, plenty of jump scares and with moonlit morgue shots of mutilated faces and limbs. We’re led to believe that the cult survivors are behind this lunacy.

But we don’t know if these bizarre things are really happening or if Jessica has cracked and is losing her grip on reality. Answers will come in the third act.

It’s a B-film that delivers its required quota of horror pic scares and gore, and is a competently produced film that should for the most part please its targeted horror pic viewers. They can check the boxes of what they demand from such genre films and might find they check most of the boxes.

REVIEWED ON 5/21/2023  GRADE: B-