Review: Malevolent (2018)

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Starring: Florence Pugh, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers, Georgina Bevan & Celia Imrie
Directed by: Olaf de Fleur Johannesson

Netflix is killing it with their original content. Shows, mini-series and movies alike, Netflix knows content and has the budget to do these projects justice. Not the least of which is Malevolent, a horror movie about a young woman that inherited the medium gifts that eventually took her mother’s life.

What’s it about?
Brother and sister duo, Jackson (Lloyd-Hughes) and Angela (Pugh), decide to use their mother’s name to create a side gig for some extra cash. The children of a famous Scottish medium, they set Angela up to be the face who speaks with ghosts, while Jackson gets the gigs and their friends, Elliot (Chambers) and Beth (Bevan), help with the tech. They put on a show for their clients, then make off with the cash before it’s discovered that they didn’t actually do anything.

This all changes when they take on a job a little too big for their britches. Mrs. Green (Imrie) supposedly lives alone on a large estate. She used to run a girls’ school, but tragedy struck and all of the girls ended up dead, their mouths sewn shut. Now, she hears laughter and screaming and she just wants a quiet house. Jackson accepts the job, against Angela’s wishes, and the team heads to this remote estate in the Scottish countryside.

What awaits them, however, are mutilated ghost children and a revelation about what actually happened all those years ago.

Malevolent

What did I think?
Like with most movies, there are pros and cons to Malevolent. The ambiance is fantastic. The setting is perfect. It’s a very well-made film in general. It actually scared me. Give me Scottish ghosts and I’m putty in your hand.

It’s a fairly typical haunted house movie. The protagonists arrive, thinking none of the stories are real. We start with glimpses of ghosts and mini-jumpscares. Then, all of a sudden, the unknown becomes known and our protags are in very real danger.

While the acting was great, the characters themselves were a little off for me. Angela is quiet and angsty — straight out of a YA novel. Jackson is unfeeling and overconfident, despite his life being in danger after borrowing money from the wrong people. Elliot is the puppy dog that follows Angela around and Beth doesn’t really seem to add much value to the plot. They’re all a little two-dimensional.

Mrs. Green, on the other hand, was phenomenal. With a base need for quiet as her driving force, Mrs. Green is multi-faceted. Celia Imrie really brings her character to life, which is to be expected of such a celebrated and talented British actress.

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Despite all this though, the relationships between the characters felt real. There were times when tears came to my eyes because the raw emotion that Florence Pugh put forth caught me off guard.

Story-wise, I’m left with more questions than answers, which I’m not a particular fan of. If it was a series and this was the first part, I’d be okay with this, but it’s a standalone movie, with no plans that I can find for a sequel. The haunted house plot wrapped up nicely, but there are questions about Angela that I’d like answered.

Do I recommend it?
Yes. While it has its flaws, this movie pulls from classic horror archetypes and introduces some twists that I didn’t expect. It’s worth a watch, especially since you won’t spend any extra money on it. You can find Malevolent on Netflix.

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