Malevolent – 2018

Director Olaf de Fleur
Screenplay Ben Ketai, Eva Konstantopoulos
Starring Florence Pugh, Celia Imrie, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers, Georgina Bevan

The never-ending stream of films being released by Netflix often seem to have the air of rejection by other studios. There is also a slew of smaller films that have solid, if lesser known talent. One such film is Malevolent, released Friday. The story takes place in Glasgow during 1986.

Pugh and Lloyd-Hughes play brother and sister Angela and Jackson. They have a business, following in the footsteps of their now deceased mother. That they are not faithful practitioners of this business creates a premise which is familiar, if not wholly recognizable.

Working with two friends, Jackson and Angela are ghost hunters. They are faking the process, believing it to be bogus. Their mother ended up in a bad way believing it real. Now Angela, who hates everything about the process, is experiencing moments that make her wonder if her mother wasn’t onto something.

Then she gets a call from Mrs. Green (Imrie), asking for them to come to her house and quiet the voices. Angela, hearing these voices while on the phone with her, says they cannot help her. Mrs. Green calls back and gets Jackson, who accepts the job because he needs the money.

The relationship between Angela and Jackson is a process that is worth watching. Their relationship presents more than disposable characters one might normally see in a film that will have to sacrifice the names at the bottom of the cast list. The development gives a rudimentary plot a little more than we get from the rest of the predictable events. The walk through the house, following the dead, is not as important as finding out who has that ability and what that might mean.

The ending is bittersweet and leaves us with possibilities that we can leave or move forward with equal chance of being entertaining.

Pugh has a resonance that pervades this story. Her eyes tell more than the script does by a longshot. Whereas the activities we see would be boring with most other actresses her age, she fills the space with the soul of someone much older.

This is a good, scary film for these reasons. Netflix’s movement should continue in this direction. No need for extraordinary budgets or stars when you make a solid story and give it to a good cast.

(*** out of *****)