Malevolent is a horror film directed by Olaf de Fleur Johannesson. It released in 2018 via Netflix. The film follows Angela & Jackson, siblings who lead a team that make money from faked paranormal encounters. However, when they are hired to investigate an old foster home they soon uncover its terrifying past.
Angela & Jackson run a profitable business. They dupe unsuspecting people into believing they have the ability to contact their loved ones and then help them pass on. They do this by using cheap effects, equipment and Angela’s “ability” to contact the deceased. Things get too real when Angela begins to have real visions that scare her into wanting to quit. It is revealed that their mother had suffered from a mental illness that led to scratching her eyes out before committing suicide.
Angela begins to suspect that she may be suffering from the same affliction. She receives a call about another job but she refuses. Jackson owes money to some dangerous people so he accepts the request when they call again. Angela is furious but Jackson pleads with her, explaining that his life is on the line. Knowing that he desperately needs the money, Angela reluctantly accepts.
When they arrive at the house, they meet Mrs Green. She explains that the property is haunted by her 3 nieces. These girls were brutally killed by her son Herman, their mouths sewn shut and placed in a circle. The team get to work, doing their usual shtick in the hopes of convincing Mrs Green that they have silenced the girls. However, Mrs Green sees through their lies and bluntly informs Jackson that they’ve failed. Angela sees a spirit of one of the girls and attempts to follow it into the disused East Wing.
Supernatural terrors are the least of their problems when they discover the very real evil lurking in the isolated house.
Malevolent has a really solid setup. Interestingly, this film is set in the 80s. I didn’t mention that before now as it doesn’t make much difference either way. Still, this is probably the most grounded version of that decade I have ever seen. It feels more truthful to what it was really like, at least in the UK. Too often, films portray the 80s with this over exaggerated aesthetic with neon lights everywhere. I mean, I love that aesthetic but still it’s refreshing.
Angela & Jackson are decent characters that work well off of each other. However, they are underdeveloped so don’t expect to care about them too much. I found the acting to be good, enough so that I did feel some sympathy for them. The characters are for the most part, likeable. I mean, as likeable as people who do what these people do can be.
The main problem with Malevolent is that it lacks any legitimate scares. There is little tension and even though you see ghosts, they never feel threatening. There is a twist that reveals the threat to be concerned about is elsewhere. However, it’s painfully predictable. Not only that but it leaves the plot with some glaring issues. The reappearance of a certain character raises questions about their whereabouts. Without giving too much away, Mrs Green is obviously hiding something. This made me wonder why she would invite Angela at all if she didn’t want them to discover her secret.
There is gore but it feels like the film is doing its best to shy away from it.
Overall, Malevolent won’t blow you away but it’s decent enough. I’ve seen some harsh reviews for the film and they are just that, harsh. For a Netflix horror movie, Malevolent isn’t so bad.