Malevolent: A dark and haunting tale


Malevolent has been a film that I have wanted to see since it came up on my radar about a month ago.  I truly love a good ghost story, and October is the perfect month for ghost stories, right?

What made Malevolent a bit different from other “haunted house” movies is that it is a ghost story that dances on the edge of torture porn. Angela (played by Florence Pugh) and Jackson (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) are American twins living in Scotland after their mother’s suicide (she gouged her own eyes out after reportedly having psychic visions throughout much of her life).  Angela and Jackson make a living by faking paranormal investigation, along with fellow team members Beth (Georgina Bevan) and Elliot (Scott Chambers).

Angela is sold as being a psychic who can clear houses of ghosts, and we learn early into the film that she is indeed having what may be genuine psychic visions.  She is starting to feel uneasy about their business venture, and decides that she wants out.

Jackson, however, owes money to some nasty people, and guilt-trips his sister into “investigating” an orphanage with a horrible history;  all of the orphan girls were murdered by the owner’s son.

Upon arriving at the orphanage, our gang of faux ghost busters meets Mrs. Green, whose son Herman murdered the little girls.  She says she just wants the house to be quiet, and you feel sympathy for her.  Shortly after the introductions are made, Angela starts to wander the house, performing her fake investigation.

Except, she almost immediately sees the ghost of one of the murdered little girls, her mouth horribly sewn shut.  The investigation is tense and suspenseful, and those little girls just keep popping up, leading Angela to a macabre discovery.

Malevolent builds nicely, and definitely had the creepy vibe down pat.  It takes a turn in about the last half hour, and even if the twist isn’t exactly a shocker, it is still very effective.  If gore isn’t your thing, be aware that there are some pretty brutal torture scenes, and some graphic wounds are shown.

The actors are all well cast, particularly Florence Pugh, I really felt for her.  I had a harder time sympathizing with Jackson, since he was all gung-ho about scamming people who were desperate to connect with, or clear their homes of, dead family members.

But, he does somewhat redeem himself by the end.  Not a lot was done with the character of Beth, but Elliot, who has a crush on Angela, came across as very sweet, and I genuinely cared about him.

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I find myself continuously impressed with Netflix’s original horror movies (I also loved Hush and The Babysitter), but Malevolent  just missed the mark.  There were a couple of big plot holes and unanswered questions, which is too bad, because had a little more care been taken with the story, this could have been and excellent movie.  Still, it is an effective spooky tale, and I recommend watching it alone with all the lights out.

Have you see Malevolent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.