HomeHorrorLatest Shark Movie 'The Black Demon' Swims Into Spring

    Latest Shark Movie ‘The Black Demon’ Swims Into Spring

    As horror fans, we’ve seen plenty of short film adaptations. They give the director and writer the chance to expand their creative vision, building lore and pressing budget restraints to bring their full intentions to a captive audience. But it’s not often that we see this same treatment done to an existing feature film. Malum presents director Anthony DiBlasi with that very golden opportunity, and a theatrical release to match. 

    Released straight to video in 2014, Last Shift was a bit of a runaway hit in the indie horror circles. It’s garnered its fair share of praise. With Malum, DiBlasi sought to expand the universe created within Last Shift – almost 10 years later – by reimagining the story and the characters in a bigger and bolder way. 

    In Malum, rookie police officer Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula, Skins) requests to spend her first shift at the decommissioned police station where her late father had worked. She’s there to guard the facility, but as the night progresses she uncovers the mysterious connection between her father’s death and a vicious cult. 

    Malum shares most of its plot and some key moments with Last Shift – a line of dialogue here, a sequence of events there – but visually and tonally, you feel like you’ve entered a very different movie. The station of Last Shift is fluorescent and almost clinical, but Malum’s location feels more like a slow, dark descent into madness. It was filmed in a real decommissioned police station in Louisville Kentucky, which DiBlasi used to its full extent. The location provides ample opportunity for scares. 

    The color through the film becomes darker and grittier as Loren learns more about the cult that – perhaps – never really left the station. Between the color grading and the practical gore and creature effects (by RussellFX), the first comparison that came to mind was Can Evrenol’s Baskin, though Malum presents this terror in a more digestible way (Turkey doesn’t mess around).  It’s like a demonic Assault on Precinct 13, fueled by cult chaos.

    The music for Malum was composed by Samual LaFlamme (who also scored the music for the Outlast video games). It’s pulsating, gritty, maddening music that drives you face first. The score will be released on vinyl, CD, and digital, so if you want to experience the tension and thundering tones at home, good news! 

    The cult aspect of Malum is given much more screen and script time. The web is complex and pulled taut, giving more meaning to the Flock of the Low God. Horror loves a good cult, and Malum really adds to its lore to create a creepy clan of followers with purpose. The third act of the film really takes off, plunging Loren and the audience into terrifying chaos. 

    Creatively, Malum is everything you want it to be. It’s bigger, stronger, and drives the knife deeper. It’s the type of horror that begs to be seen on a big screen with a screaming audience. The scares are fun and the effects are delightfully gruesome; it jeers as it pushes Loren to complete madness.

    Conceptually, admittedly, there are some challenges with expanding a fully-formed feature. Some moments that are mirrored from Last Shift are more deeply explored, while others (namely, the “turn around” command when Loren first enters the station) don’t really have the same follow through to provide an explanation. 

    Similarly, Loren’s purpose at the station seems a tad shallow. In Last Shift, she’s there to wait for a bio-collections team to come pick up materials from the evidence locker. Fair purpose, easy ask. In Malum, it’s not as clear why she would need to stay there, alone, on her first day on the force, while cult members are closing in on the new precinct. There’s nothing strictly keeping her there other than her own pride (which, to be fair, is a strong enough reason for Loren, but maybe not for every audience member yelling at the screen for her to get the hell out of there). 

    Enjoying a recent viewing of Last Shift may color your vision of Malum. It’s such a strong film on its own that it’s difficult to not draw comparisons. Last Shift is so contained that you’re allowed to leave with questions and fodder for imagination. Malum is a creative creature of a feature that grows to fill that space, but it’s left with some stretch marks.

    You can catch Malum in theaters on March 31st. For more on Last Shift, check out our list of 5 Must-See Cosmic Horror Films.

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