Malevolent, from director Olaf De Fleur, is yet another movie where a group of fake ghost hunters con innocent people until it turns out that ghosts might actually be real. And then it all goes horribly wrong for all these assholes.
How many movies out there attempt and fail to rip-off the opening to Ghostbusters? Because I’ve come across way too many this month. Way, way, way, way, way, way, way too many.
This movie takes ten minutes to do nothing. The opening sequence is just this group of 1980s Glasgow assholes packing up 80s equipment into their 80s car, driving off to some rural house, and then suckering a grieving family for 5 more minutes before the lead asshole takes a slow walk through a very well-lit basement and comes across a ghost. Maybe. Sorta. But not like a spooky ghost. More like a just sorta stands there and occasionally moves in a slow, unthreatening fashion ghost. This spooks the lead asshole and the title pops up.
Why do so few people involved in horror movies these days not know how to tell a basic scary story?
This is another movie that starts almost 10 minutes too soon. I don’t need to see the group packing up at college and loading into their shitty car and driving. Just start with them at the house, setting up, and going about their fuckin’ business. I don’t need a non-starter prologue to the prologue. There’s no story being told by a bunch of assholes slowly packing their gear. There’s no important dialog. No important action. No important visuals. At best, this and the sluggish pacing are nothing more than lazy padding to ensure this movie got past the 80 minute mark.
Why do all these sorts of movies feel as if all the life and fun have been sucked out of it? Even the scenery is bored.
Usually, you save that reveal that all the ghost stuff is supposed to be bullshit for the end of the opening sequence. That way when the real ghost stuff happens, it’s a little shock for everyone–the characters and us, the audience. But by front loading the film with a blatant statement about how this is a scam, you’ve expositioned away the entire point of the sequence. Because now we know we’re watching nothing of importance for ten minutes. Nothing is going to happen. No scares are going to happen until that telegraphed tease at the end where it finally does happen and we’re supposed to be surprised. A cold open at least affords the chance for ambiguity, for the possibility that something might happen at any moment. That maybe ghosts are real, but then they’re totally not, except, yes, they totally are. It’s about playing with the expectations of your audience, not sucking out all the fuckin’ joy of watching a movie like this.
I don’t know where you can see it right now, but go watch something like Ouija: Origin of Evil, which has the same basic set-up, a more engaging story, and much better execution of its ideas and concepts. Malevolent–and movies like it–should be ignored and forgotten.