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[Interview] MALUM Director Anthony DiBlasi and Actress Natalie Victoria Discuss Death Cults and The Importance of Practical Effects

Anthony DiBlasi’s Malum, a re-imagining of his own cult-hit Last Shift (2014), is in theatres this weekend- something that was always a bit of sore spot about that 2014 indie project. “The thing that bummed me out about the first one,” DiBlasi shared with us, “was [that] I felt like it was a theatrical movie. I felt like it was something that should be seen in a theatre with an audience, and we designed it that way even though it was a lower budget independent film”. 

Last Shift has been a favorite of indie horror fans since it’s release and it was never uncommon to see it on “Best Indie Horror Movies of The Last 20 Years” lists, all over the internet. Heck, I know for a fact that it’s been featured on Nightmare on Film Street more than once. Malum, thanks to the producing team at Welcome Villain Films, expands the story and fills out the haunting universe of that previous film, while still delivering a cult-filled, demon-infested joyride through insanity through Hell.

 



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In Malum a rookie police officer agrees to take the last shift as a now defunct police precinct on what just happens to be a very important anniversary for a local death cult that has been terrorizing the community for years. Stuck at the station alone, serving as a glorified security guard, this unsuspecting officer, played by Jessica Sula (Split) meets a whole host of weirdos including a distraught homeless man, a 650 lbs pig, and a mysterious woman played by Natalie Victoria (Deadheads), reprising her role from the previous film.

In discussing the team’s approach to remaking a film so familiar to them, Victoria shared a peek into their process and about how they were given the ability to elaborate on their characters in a way they just weren’t able to on that first production. “As a director, Anthony really impressed upon all the actors [that this was] a unique experience, and especially on me because I had done that same character in Last Shift, to go there and take it to a deeper level and [emphasize] all those colors and all those notes so it is something fresh and new for a first audience for also for the fans who loved that first movie.”

 

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Nightmare on Film Street’s reviewer Chris Vogel praised Malum for taking a seeming normal setting and devolving “into a total hellscape where the lines of reality blurred as evil relentlessly infiltrates the halls of the abandoned station”. That’s thanks, in large part to the Practical effects from gore superstars Josh & Sierra Russell (Hellraiser). It’s not uncommon to hear fans and directors gush about the gory details of a prosthetic gag but, as Victoria shares, it’s also a treat for actors as well.

Being able to do practical is an actor’s dream,” she tells us, “Because it’s so real and visceral and it really brings that in. I do think fans like that stuff more and are surprised by it a little but because obviously in today’s culture- where we’re at now for filmmaking- almost everything is computerized. There are so many amazing things you can do digitally but I still think there’s a place for the practical as well, and that place is Horror.”

 

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They had a challenge because the script was so dense with effects,” DiBlasi elaborates. “They had so much to do in a very short amount of time but I knew going into pre-production that we wanted to allocated good resources for the effects guys [so] we could deliver on these major moments that we knew had to hit. It was funny because some of [the effects], I saw no in between. It was just like, here’s our sketch and here it’s done! [laughs] And I’m like ‘whoa! this looks awesome!”

Malum will no doubt face comparisons to its origin film, but the ace up Malum‘s sleeve, and maybe the real power it holds over its sister film, is that you can see Malum on the big screen this weekend- something you’ve never been able to do with Last Shift. Horror is always better in a dark room with big sound, and 100 other giddy horror fans eagerly anticipating the next big scare. The original might play better late at night in your living room, but the practical effects and nightmarish imagery of Malum are kind of what you always hope to see at the movie theatre.

 

There are so many amazing things you can do digitally but I still think there’s a place for the practical as well, and that place is Horror.”

 

Malum, from Welcome Villain Films, is in select theatres now, and you can hear the full unabridged version of our interview with Anthony DiBlasi and Natalie Victoria in the video above. Let us know what you thought of this bold re-imagining over on Twitter or in the Nightmare on Film Street Discord! Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.

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