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Resident Evil 2 Fans Should Check Out This Indie Horror Movie

Apr 27, 2023

Fans of violent action-horror set in a police station should look no further than Anthony DiBlasi's recent feature, Malum.

The Resident Evil franchise is an odd duck in the grand scheme of pop culture. Behind every successful game or innovative idea lies a trail of poor choices and chaotic implementation. Yet, despite all of its missteps, the franchise delivers a mix of elements that simply can't be found anywhere else. Some projects capture some of the fun, like the recent horror film Malum.

Anthony DiBlasi is one of the most underrated directors working in the horror scene today. His debut feature, Dread, came at the tail end of the torture horror craze and delivered one of its smarter outings. His breakout film was Last Shift, which was released in 2014 to modest success and critical praise. Malum, his latest project, is a reimagining of Last Shift.

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Narratively, Malum is extremely similar to Last Shift. Jessica Sula stars as Jessica Loren, a rookie cop on her first shift. Jessica volunteers for the graveyard shift at a police station that's closing its doors for good. Jessica takes the job with an ulterior motive. She'll be spending the night investigating the untimely death of her father. Her father previously worked out of the same station, but his demise has ties to a mysterious cult. Jessica dives into her family's dark history with the evils of the area. As she looks for answers, she's confronted by a nightmarish wave of paranormal occurrences and deadly monsters. While the premise closely matches that of Last Shift, the presentation couldn't be more different. Last Shift was an atmospheric, minimalist horror film, while Malus throws everything against the wall until the audience is gasping for air. Both have their appeal.

There are a lot of superficial similarities between these two stories. Both are fast-paced horror/action experiences set in a police station. Leon Kennedy and Jessica Loren are both new police officers having the worst imaginable first day. They both come to a new station for the first time seeking answers. Both of their fathers gave them the guidance that led them to police work. The matched settings provide for a host of similar scenes, even though the monsters aren't identical. Like most Resident Evil games, Leon is up against hundreds of zombies and some dangerous bioweapons. Jessica's enemies are less corporeal and more demonic. The biggest difference between the two works is the appearance of normalcy. There's a mystery present in Malum. The events of Resident Evil 2 are often crystal clear.

Jessica Loren's circumstances could be entirely in her own head. The film plays with perception in some pretty cruel ways. Jessica's dad was believed to have died by his own hand after shooting several of his fellow officers in the police department. That gruesome detail leaves her father with an atrocious reputation, making Jessica persona non grata at her new temporary place of work. The other officers either hate her for who her father was or talk down to her because she's a woman. She doesn't have any allies. Beyond the walls of the station, she's getting constant prank calls threatening her life. The film doesn't show much of the town, as cultists cause chaos and keep the other cops busy. Leon often seems alone in his battle with the undead hoard, but at least he can be sure that his problems are really there. There's an inherent dissonance to everything that happens in Malum. The cult leader talking like Charles Manson, the faintly satanic score humming nonsense in the background, the backstory about betrayal and madness. It all comes together to keep the audience guessing. Resident Evil 2 doesn't need players to guess. It needs them to fight.

Though there are some substantial differences between Malum and Resident Evil, the action elements play well together. There are a few scenes in Malum that are shot like a first-person shooter. It's hacky to point out at this juncture, but Malum is certainly a better Resident Evil film than any already on the market. The cinematography captures a bit of 28 Days Later and a little bit of old-fashioned Giallo while it's chopping across absurd scenes of violence. It's something to behold, especially when compared to Last Shift. The film demonstrates how different two executions of the same idea can be. That element mirrors the larger Resident Evil franchise in its expansion.

Malum did premiere in theaters, but it's enjoying a very limited run. It dropped simultaneously onto video-on-demand services including Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime Video. Fans of Resident Evil, gory horror/action films, or Last Shift should seek it out. It's not the most original film ever made, but it is a wall-to-wall thrill ride with some brilliant creative work in its execution. Though the world may have seen a rookie cop take on a deadly police station before, they've never seen it quite like this.

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Joshua is a lifelong film buff, D&D enthusiast, tournament winning Smash Bros. player and extremely passionate writer. He also has a BS in Psychology.