A brother and sister who enjoy scamming people for money by claiming that she can see paranormal entities find themselves in one hell of a pickle when they agree to investigate a house (that used to be a school) where a group of little girls were murdered years ago. Unfortunately for them, the place really is haunted, and they may not make it out alive to scam anyone else ever again.
I think that you can tell by just looking at the synopsis that Malevolent isn’t a very original movie and that, in a nutshell, is its biggest downfall. While I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was a bad film it just isn’t anything special at the same time and had a very “been there, done that” feel to it that prevented it from being very memorable. I think that it may have been quite good if it had come out about twenty years ago or so but since there have been a ton of similar movies over the years it doesn’t really stand out. It’s just mediocre at best and I think that most of the people that decide to watch it will forget all about it in a day or so.
As I said the premise is nothing new and isn’t anything you haven’t already seen countless times before. A woman pretends to have supernatural visions (and see ghosts) so she can scam people out of their money only to eventually realize that she truly is able to do so when she starts seeing ghosties all around her. Of course, she inherited this gift (or is it a curse?) from her mother (who clawed her own eyes out because she couldn’t deal with seeing dead people anymore) but no one believed her and thought that she was just nuts.
Our fake ghost whisperer agrees to check out a creepy old house (that is owned by an even creepier old lady) where several little girls were murdered years earlier and before you know it, she is being haunted by them for real. Sound familiar? Probably because it’s been done many, many, times before in some shape of form (the whole time I was watching it I kept thinking about the criminally underrated 90’s flick The Frighteners as it was obvious the people behind this movie were influenced by it to a degree). Long story short, if you’ve ever seen any horror film that involves someone pretending to have supernatural powers only to find out that they really have them then you’ve basically already seen this movie as it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
In addition to not really feeling the main storyline there is also a mystery thrown into the mix at one point that just doesn’t work and is extremely easy to figure out. I deduced everything correctly the moment we meet a certain character and the whole mystery as to what really happened to the little girls and who killed them is about as hard to figure out as your average episode of Scooby-Doo. I predict that about 99% of the people that watch Malevolent with have little to no trouble solving the mystery as quickly as I did as it doesn’t take someone like Sherlock Holmes to do so. I think that the whole mystery angle was just thrown in at the last minute to pad out time (and because the filmmakers felt that they needed some sort of subplot) and I just can’t see anyone being shocked when everything is revealed.
On the plus side the cast is decent, and the acting is quite good. Florence Pugh is good as the main character Angela and she is just a likable character in general as a result. Ben Lloyd-Hughes is good too as her manipulative brother Jackson who basically guilt trips her into scamming people and even though we aren’t really supposed to like him I did for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on (though his reasons for needing money are as about as cookie cutter as you can get). I liked Scott Chambers as Elliot too but can’t quite figure out why he pretty much turns into DC Comics’ Doomsday toward the end (seriously, he’s sort of a wimpy guy but keeps getting up after having a ton of bad things happen to him like he is suddenly invulnerable to pain for some unknown reason). The real star of the film though is Celia Imrie as the creepy Mrs. Green. She owns every scene that she is in and in my opinion, she is the scariest thing about the movie in general.
I didn’t hate Malevolent but at the same time I am not in any hurry to watch it again anytime soon. It is unoriginal, predictable, a little boring, and seems to go on forever at times (there are definitely some pacing issues here). As I said earlier, I might have felt quite differently about it had I seen it around 1999 or so when the premise was fresh, but it doesn’t quite work now since so many similar movies have come and gone before it. I think it suffers from coming way too late to the party the same way some slasher films did in the early to mid-90s (and some hair bands did in the early 90s) and I just wasn’t that impressed with it. Check it out if it sounds like something that you might be into but if you’re looking for something original and just a tad bit spooky then you’re better off looking elsewhere.