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Malevolent (2018) – Netflix Original Review

Malevolent (2018) is another Netflix flick, which could have been exciting, however it quickly turned into an exercise in repeating the horror genre’s tropes.

Just a few of horror films begins with an astonishing premise, but it takes an ingenious filmmaker to do so. That leaves a substantial part of scary flicks to operate on two levels – a brooding atmosphere or graphic imagery.

Frankly, the latter tends to be favored in our modern times, as it’s often enough to drive on the mist of unknown without actual nightmare fuel. While Malevolent (2018), directed by Icelandic filmmaker Olaf de Fleur, kicks off with an unbearable cliche (a group of young people getting into a bloody mess), the substance in the first half is enough to glue you to the screen.

What is Malevolent (2018) about?

Malevolent (2018) tells the story of a group of students, who make extra money by pretending to be ghost mediums. One of their customers happens to be a bit more challenging than their easy-to-trick rest – she wants her deceased daughters to stop haunting her house. Soon, the pack of students learns a terrifying secret, hidden in the manor of the mysterious lady.

Despite the story’s paint-by-numbers structure, de Fleur’s confidence beams in this first half. Malevolent (2018) grows wings to fly – the cunning camera work, matched with a gloomy score by Ali Hardiman, together create a dreadful atmosphere that avid genre fans will surely love.

First half of Malevolent (2018) raises the expectations

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The quick take-off is fueled by Florence Pugh, known from a break-out role in Lady Macbeth (2016). While the British actress deserves a more meaty character to chew into, Pugh capably delivers an engaging and convincing character nonetheless. And for a film, where the primary goal is to scare its viewer, Pugh adds an extra layer to it.

The flight of Malevolent (2018) begins to descend once the group of student cheaters set up their gear in the gargantuan mansion.

Things get worse when Olaf de Fleur decides to go graphic in Malevolent (2018)

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Theoretically, Malevolent (2018) should be getting more exciting, vibrant and scary, because the flies are finally lured into a spider’s net. Unfortunately, director Olaf de Fleur cuts his own wings off by the choice he makes.

Pugh’s character becomes a disposable horror trope (along with anything else that’s taking place on the screen) in the second one. All of the characters – both students and the “bad guys” – act foolishly, and could squeeze their brains in a nail’s head, because of their actions being everything but reasonable. That’s largely the fault of Eva Konstantonopulos’ script (based on a novel of her own creation by the way).

Any desperate attempt at justifying this silliness causes De Fleur’s rating to plummet further down. As much as he dresses it in fear and building the tension, there’s no way to conceal the obvious fault of the plot – its triviality. Konstantonopoulos sketches a compelling background, however the actual story is unmistakably shallow.

On top of that comes the final sequence.

A bloody, ill-inspired mayhem that constitutes a good portion of Malevolent (2018) last breathe and which also erases everything good that de Fleur has been constructing for the first forty minutes of the film. Even if the director hinted to an ambition of a double-barreled ghost story, it wastes its potential entirely.

By the end of it all, Olaf de Fleur’s Malevolent (2018) will only be a sad reminder that you should think twice before digging into Netflix-labeled horror in-house productions again.

Malevolent (2018) – Culturally Loved or Hated?

While the second half of Olaf de Fleur’s movie delivers a fair portion of thrills and scares, the plot moves at a slowcoach pace and operates on a skin-deep level of character and plot development.

Malevolent (2018)

Hate Grade: 7/10

Director: Olaf de Fleur

Writer: Ben Ketai, Eva Konstantantopoulos

Starring: Florence Pugh, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers, Georgina Bevan

Music: Al Hardiman

Cinematography: Bjarni Felix Bjarnason

Where to watch: Netflix

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