Synopsis: A rookie police officer willingly takes the last shift at a newly decommissioned police station to uncover the mysterious connection between her father’s death and a vicious cult.
Stars: Jessica Sula, Candice Coke, Chaney Morrow, Clarke Wolfe, Morgan Lennon, Valerie Loo, Monroe Cline, Eric Olson, Sam Brooks, Kevin Wayne, Danielle Coyne, Natalie Victoria, Christopher Matthew Spencer, Britt George
Director: Anthony DiBlasi
Running Length: 92 minutes
TMMM Score: (4/10)
Review: If you’ve done your fair share of scrolling around a streaming service over the past five years, chances are you’ve come across writer/director Anthony DiBlasi’s The Last Shift. Check out this link for the cover if you need your memory refreshed, but it’s a memorable image. I had breezed right past it several times until I had seen it pop up on so many “Best Steaming Horror” lists that I finally took the dive late one weekend evening. While I may not classify the film as the “Best” of anything, I will say that if its execution wasn’t always as strong as its concept, at least it took big swings throughout.
Movie history is filled with directors remaking their earlier works. Alfred Hitchcock made The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1934 and 1956, Cecil B. DeMille filmed The Ten Commandments in 1923 and 1956, and Michael Mann directed a television movie called L.A. Takedown in 1989, and its feature film version Heat in 1995. The Last Shift director DiBlasi can be added to that list because he’s reworked his 2014 film with original writer Scott Poiley and created Malum. Call it a remake or a reboot, or even classify it as a reimagining if you want to. Just don’t call it a vast improvement.
The story remains essentially the same. A year after her police officer father went on a suicidal rampage through his station shortly after apprehending members of a cruel cult, his daughter Jessica (Jessica Sula, Split) has joined the police force and is heading into her first shift. While the city braces itself for more violent protests against the police, she’s requested assignment to the station where her father worked. Due to budget cuts, it’s the last night of operation, and the job is to watch the building until the morning. She’s there seeking answers, though, and it isn’t long before ghosts from the past and lingering evil in the present converge to make her first shift one she’ll never forget.
In DiBlasi’s original, this initial set-up found the movie firing on all cylinders. When it came time to get to the crazier aspects of the tale and where Jessica’s investigation leads her, DiBlasi didn’t have the budget to bring The Last Shift to any satisfying conclusion. You’d think that with the benefit of time and advances in the filmmaking process, Malum would be several notches up, but right out of the gate, any viewer can see significant problems in both performance in presentation. The acting is abysmal, and the production quality is even worse.
As Malum progresses and the final act approaches, an interesting development starts to take place. When the scares get greater, the focus turns sharper, and the viewer gets sucked deeper into the depths DiBlasi and Poiley always had intended us to explore. Some genuinely frightening images are conjured up, not just in the gruesome make-up designs but in the scares (both jump and skin prickly kind) timed to a razor’s edge of shock. The acting is a problem throughout, but thankfully Sula is a commanding center that brings stability to true chaos.
While it might be intriguing to hold both films up and explore their differences (or similarities), I might take it a step further and wonder what the first act of the 2014 film and the last act of Malum might be like spliced together. This would be Frankenstein-ing the best of both movies to create the most skilled cut of the nightmare DiBlasi and Poiley are going for. Who knows, maybe they’ll remake the film again in another ten years and finally perfect it. Malum might be worth it for fans of The Last Shift, curious to see what DiBlasi could do with a bigger budget, but newcomers should exercise caution.