Why the director of horror movie Malum remade his own film
In the horror movie Malum, a young cop is assaulted by supernatural forces while manning an about-to-be-abandoned police station.
"It's about a rookie police officer named Jessica Loren, who became an officer to find out [about] the mystery surrounding her father's death, who was also a police officer," says director and co-writer Anthony DiBlasi. "She's working the last shift of this decommissioned station to uncover this mystery. But, unbeknownst to her, her family's tied to this malicious cult. And high jinks ensue!"
Welcome Villain Jessica Sula in 'Malum'
Don't be surprised if all this sounds familiar. Malum is a remake of DeBlasi's film Last Shift, which starred Juliana Harkavy and was released to video-on-demand in 2014. The director and his Last Shift co-writer Scott Poiley decided to have another crack at the story when Luke LaBeau, head of development at the recently-founded Welcome Villain Films, approached DiBlasi about making another movie set in the Last Shift universe.
"We debated for a while if we were going to do an extension of the first movie or if we were going to reimagine it," says DiBlasi. "We went with the reimagining because Scott and I did Last Shift on a very limited budget. I'm very happy with that first film [but] we obviously had to leave some things on the table because of the size of the movie and our shooting schedule.
Adds, DiBlasi, "Also, I always felt the first film would play well in theaters, that it would play well with a crowd. Going into this one, we knew it would do a theatrical release in the States, and that was really important to me, so an audience can see it the way it was meant to be seen. There are some of our favorite moments in the first one that creep back up in this one but in a different enough way, so it will give fans of the first one something fresh and something to look forward to with this one."
Welcome Villain Jessica Sula in 'Malum'
The new cast includes Chaney Morrow as cult leader John Michael Malum and Welsh actress Jessica Sula, from Split and the TV show Skins, as the film's heroine, Officer Loren.
"Juliana Harkavy, in the first film, it's almost like, she's in the wrong place at the wrong time," says DiBlasi. "In this movie, the lead character is much more on a mission, she's coming into this story with a big chip on her shoulder because of her father's circumstances, and Jess really embodied that."
Photo courtesy of Anthony DiBlasio and Natalie Victoria 'Malum' director Anthony DiBlasi and actress Natalie Victoria
The lone returning Last Shift cast member is actress Natalie Victoria, DiBlasi's real-life spouse, who reprises the role of a sex worker named Marigold. What did Victoria think when she heard DiBlasi was thinking about remaking Last Shift?
"I was like, what?" the actress says with a laugh. "I had the same reaction I think a lot of people had, initially, which was, why? For what purpose? And, wow, what a challenge. Then I got the news, oh, guess what, you're going to have this challenge too, so good luck!"
DiBlasi shot the film at a decommissioned police station in Louisville, KY.
"It was very creepy," says the director. "I went there several times during the scout; I was always getting lost. The upper floors are where they house the inmates, and they design those floors like a maze. If there was ever an escape attempt, they don't want people to be able to find their way out. So that was challenging."
"It had this beautiful architecture that harkened back to like the 1940s, 1950s," says Victoria. "But then, you go to the upper levels, and there was real blood on the walls, and real black mold, and it was like, oh my gosh. There was definitely a hallway that none of the actors would go down."
DiBlasi reveals that he and co-writer Poiley have thoughts about a possible sequel to Malum. But would the director consider remaking Last Shift again further down the track?
"Yeah, we said that; we're just going to reimagine Malum now every ten years, just redo it," says DiBlasi. "No, I think we've done all we wanted to with this story and this film, and hopefully, we can branch off now."
Malum hits theaters March 31. Watch the film's trailer below.
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