Quick Review - 'Malevolent'
Throughout the course of the frustrating yet competently made Netflix produced film Malevolent, I went through a roller coaster of emotions ranging from impressed to downright angry. Why, you might ask? Because everyone is an idiot in this movie, including the main character. I know we gotta take certain liberties with horror films but when the film sets a grounded self-serious tone while everyone’s running around like chickens with their heads cut off, we got major problems.
Malevolent follows a group of four young con artists disguising themselves as exorcists during the late 80s. They go from job to job taking advantage of those in mourning, coheaded by Angela and her brother Jackson. That is until her family’s heritage of long thought mental illness manifests itself as an ability to see ghosts. Angela and her brother come to heads on the morality of what they do with Angela wanting to back out but they agree to one last job to repay a debt that Jackson owes to some shady people. The last house they come across unfortunately has a dark history all of its own as Angela discovers the ghosts aren’t trying to harm her, but warn her.
The First Act starts off promising enough with some good scares and interesting character development with the main character Angela, but then it devolves into a run-of-the mill haunted house movie in the Second Act with an unbelievably predictable outcome in the Third Act. To make matters worse, the characters never seem to sympathize with one another adding no urgency to what should be tense sequences. At one point the cameraman, Elliot, falls through the floor resulting in an open fracture in his leg but when Angela and Jackson descend to help him, they just stare at a wall with inscriptions written by the dead children of the house, which are obvious warnings to get the hell out. What do they do instead? They stay. They stay and they don’t try to set their friends leg or bandage it up in any way. He’s in excruciating pain and everyone’s pretty chill about it. Even Angela, the audience’s anchor and the only comprehending the situation she and her friends are in acts like a lost puppy throughout the rest of the film.
Then there’s the last twenty minutes, which are just a dumb excuse to include some gore for the sake of it as well as some of the worst character actions I can remember, among some I’ll never forget. Spoilers but there’s a scene where Angela’s being tortured and the cameraman Elliot has the drop on her captors and instead of backstabbing them or knocking them upside the head with his cane, he simply says “Leave her alone.” I’m sorry, please excuse me while I laugh at how bad this is. The forthcoming tussle between Elliot and the villains is just as dumb if not worse as the main villain continuously stabs Elliot until Angela pleads with the ghost children of the house to help them. Which they do. Because. Reasons?
Do yourself a favor and steer clear of Malevolent.