Malevolent from Netflix is the latest horror offering from the online streaming service. The genre has been a happy hunting ground for them in recent years. ’The Babysitter’ and ‘The Haunting Of Hill House’ are two Netflix Originals which have received favourable reviews. Malevolent aims to build on that success with a blend of chills and creepy horror.
Con artists Angela and Jackson are brother and sister. The siblings use a fake ‘psychic’ scam to supplement their income whilst studying at university. They take advantage of the vulnerable by claiming to be able to communicate with the dead. The duo assuages their guilt by maintaining their ‘psychic’ services bring closure to the grieving families.
Angela is the fake medium who claims she can speak with the departed. She is played by Florence Pugh, a talented British actress who is best known for her stunning performance in the 2016 film ‘Lady Macbeth‘. Of course, it’s all a scam and Angela has no psychic abilities. The team uses a mix of technology and confidence tricks to deceive the families.
Jackson is Angela’s brother and his role is to talk up his sister’s abilities and collect the payments. The scams start to take an emotional toll on the team and the group decide to disband. However, when Jackson racks-up a debt with a local gangster the team is forced to take one last job. They travel to a remote house in the Scottish highlands to help a woman who claims to be hearing ghostly screams.
From the moment the team arrives, the tension builds. Angela begins having creepy, unexplained visions whilst in the house. Jackson convinces her it’s all in the mind. After all, her mother saw things that weren't there, right before she killed herself.
If the first half of ‘Malevolent’ is akin to ‘The Woman In Black’ then the second half is more like ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. The film's shift in gear is jolting, especially after the low key opening. However, this helps break the tension which director Olaf de Fleur skilfully develops. While this film is not overly scary, it does have a few genuine ‘jumpy’ moments. The final third of the movie is gruesome and the plot twists and turns unexpectedly. Overall ‘Malevolent’ is a decent horror flick, not a classic but well worth an hour and a half of your time on a dark winter's night.