Brother and sister duo Angela (Florence Pugh) and Jackson (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) are nothing more than scam artists. Preying on the grief stricken and the vulnerable, they convince the bereaved that Angela has the ability to contact the dead. Their next sucker in waiting is Mrs Green (Celia Imrie), an old woman living alone in an abandoned orphanage, who wants them to silence the malevolent voices that keep her up at night. It’s a simple con, and Mrs Green is clearly deluded, they have no reason to think otherwise.
But the building has a dark history, a past so horrifying they begin to question too late if they are in over their heads. Years ago, the orphanage was stage to a string of murders, where young girls were forever silenced by a twisted killer. And Angela’s on the brink – sleepless and vulnerable, no longer certain of what’s actually real; convinced she genuinely sees and hears the girls calling out to her from the depths of the house. But a far more real and terrifying evil plagues the house, and these paranormal investigators will soon suffer the ultimate reality check.
You may have been able to tell due to my recent reviews I have been publishing this week, that I am on a Florence Pugh movie marathon. I have been checking out all of the films she stars in that I have yet to see, as she is my favorite actress and I figured it would only be fair to watch the rest of her filmography.
Malevolent is a seriously strange film to review, because it is equal parts interesting and tragically boring all at the same time. There are certainly things to like about this film, but overall, I found myself completely checking out of Olaf de Fleur’s 2018 horror feature.
To be completely honest with you, the concept of this movie actually sounded pretty entertaining to me despite being incredibly familiar in every regard. Unfortunately, this movie was not entertaining, at least for the most part. It is remarkably strange how Malevolent has a running time of only eighty eight minutes, as the film tries to set up certain plot points but they never go anywhere. Everything feels so rushed here. Just when you may be getting interested with a certain character, the film disregards exploring their backstory and jumps straight to the cheap scares.
For a horror movie, this is one of the most tame films I have seen in years. Virtually nothing of terror occurs throughout, and whenever something does happen, it is just an extremely cheap jump scare.
By far the most exciting aspect of Malevolent is its third act. At first, I was unsure of how to feel about it as it was playing out in front of me. For a little while, it felt like it came completely out of left field, which it does, and it seemed so unearned. But as scenes started to progress and I saw where things were heading, the more I enjoyed the final moments. The ending is harsh, brutal, and what the entire movie should have been.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film beforehand is just a string of pointless events that lead absolutely nowhere. A large majority of the movie is spent simply following our protagonists as they slowly creep their way around hallways and that is supposed to be entertaining, but it just wasn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some elements of the film that I did enjoy like I touched upon earlier. There were some sequences that did utilize some really clever filmmaking techniques and there are some moments that did impress me. It’s just that the vast majority of the film didn’t.
Let’s be real, though. The one truly fantastic element of Malevolent is Florence Pugh. Yet again, she delivers a mesmerizing performance filled with emotion and trauma. You can tell her character Angela has been through many rough patches in her life, and Pugh injects a ton of life into this character. Pugh truly deserved a much better film than the one she got.
I cannot really recommend this movie to anybody else besides Pugh fans like myself. If you want to see her deliver yet another great performance, then check this out. But if you are looking for a thrilling and exciting horror picture, then you should stay away from this one.
Florence Pugh delivers a strong performance in Malevolent; an otherwise drastically dull and boring horror feature with little to no substance.
Overall Grade: C-
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Cast: Florence Pugh, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers, Georgina Bevan, James Cosmo, Celia Imrie
Directed by: Olaf de Fleur
Distributed by: Netflix
Running Time: 88 minutes