Second Last Shift: Malum Review (2023 Movie)

Malum shows that sometimes there's more to do after your Last Shift

Disclaimer: If you click a PHASR link and make a purchase, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission.

malum movie review

Malum Synopsis

Malum follows Jessica Loren (Jessica Sula) a rookie cop just about to begin her first shift. That shift involves sitting in an empty police station that’s due to be torn down soon, as it’s being replaced with a more high tech station. It also doesn’t help that a year ago, Jessica’s father Will Loren (Eric Olson) went on a murder rampage in the station that culminated with his own death. 

This happened coincidentally around the time that a bunch of cult members were brought in after being caught doing their own murderous rituals for a being they call The Low God. Jessica took the job specifically so she could try to learn what made her dad turn into a murderer, however as the night goes on Jessica experiences a series of strange and disturbing events that might just lead to her snapping much like her father did a year before.

Malum Review

In 2014, Anthony DiBlasi who is the writer/director of Malum made a little film called Last Shift which shared the exact same plot as this. This means DiBlasi joins a small list of directors who have remade their own films (and it’s not a bad list to be on, it includes people like Cecil B Demille, Alfred Hitchcock and Frank Capra just to name a few) so it’s interesting to see how Malum differs from Last Shift in terms of how the story is presented. 

On a very surface level reading they are the same film, the beats for 95% of the story are identical, both films are about a female police officer left alone in a quiet police station, both feature several similar scenes with similar build-ups and scares but what sets Malum apart is clearly a budget increase, a more experienced director in control of things and a more direct approach to telling the story. 

Where Last Shift left a lot to implication (almost intentionally to set up the idea that maybe everything happening is just inside the officer’s head), Malum might as well face the audience and explain in depth everything that’s going on. This isn’t stuff that could just be a mental breakdown, this is flat-out creepy cult shit and it tells you that right off the top with the opening scene.

It feels like Malum is more in line with the movie that DiBlasi wanted to make originally but couldn’t get the extra money to pull it off back in 2014 so had to work around the restrictions to make it work and while Malum feels more complete as a result, the drawback is that it’s a little less mysterious.

RELATED: The Boy Behind The Door Review (2020)

Malum (2023) - Jessica Sula
Malum (2023) – Jessica Sula

What it lacks in subtle mystery, Malum makes up with visceral horror. While they might repeat some scare sequences from Last Shift, including a particularly terrifying scene involving a flashlight in a holding cell, they’re executed much better here with the clearer visuals helping elevate the moments of horror. You might lose a little bit of the subtle undertones but that allows them the chance to really push the more horrific moments to the front, making the darker moments more intense and visceral because they can actually pull it off.

It’s also fascinating how Malum has adjusted the story to more modern times, specifically attitudes about police. In 2014 it was a lot less popular to talk negatively about cops but now it’s much more acceptable to call cops out for how they actually behave and Malum absolutely factors that in with certain lines of dialogue and the general tone of how it’s seemingly fine to treat civilians a certain way but not other cops. It’s a subtle change, a few lines of dialogue here and there but it’s enough to make our protagonist feel even more isolated than she was before.

On its own merits, Malum is a clever and fun horror film with enough tension, scares and viscera to make fans of the genre very happy. It’s well executed and filled with enough twists to have you on your toes… as a reboot of the director’s own work, it’s honestly even more fascinating. Seeing how DiBlasi has changed over nearly a decade and the minor things they altered to improve on their previous attempt at this exact film is worthy of intense study on its own. It’s an interesting experiment that works wonderfully, but if you only want to watch one version then the easy pick is Malum.

RELATED: Skinamarink Explained: The Buzz Surrounding the Indie-Horror Hit

Have You Watched Malum?

Thank you for reading our review of Malum! Have you seen this movie, and are you a fan of Malum or Last Shift? Let us know what you thought about it, on social media!

Make The Other Emails In Your Inbox Jealous.

Get The Best Of PHASR Delivered Weekly

The Perfect Shirt For All Your Special Stains.


Get The Best of PHASR Directly To Your Inbox!

When you sign up for the PHASR newsletter,
you are automatically entered to
win free PHASR merch.