“I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that way,” DiBlasi explains. “I always feel very holistic at the end. I squeeze it for everything it’s worth, and then I’m done. Release it. Take it to the world.”
It turns out that DiBlasi’s only real regret about Last Shift is that it didn’t take off theatrically, as he considered it to be the kind of movie that should be seen with a crowd. “That sound design should be heard in a theater,” he says. “We very much created it that way, but it didn’t do anything theatrically, at least in the States. I’m sure in other parts of the world it did, but I felt like Last Shift could have had a much wider audience. That was how the Malum conversation began.”
Last Shift became a popular horror film on Netflix in 2015, so it did end up reaching a much wider audience than DiBlasi first thought, given its theatrical disappointment, but when Welcome Villain came knocking with their enthusiasm for the movie, he “vomited out” a six-page treatment for Malum that he wanted to be collaborative.
“Welcome Villain had their own favorite things about the first movie, and I was keen to expand on certain things,” he explains. “I wanted to make sure we were on the same page from the get-go. Every time we dug back into it, we started to be like, ‘Okay, this is getting exciting. Now we know what we want to bring in. We know what we want to do with these characters this time.’ After that, when we sat down to write the script, I didn’t even think about the first movie.”
The director admits he had some worries about remaking his own feature, but that they quickly dissipated once the project really got underway. “I was concerned that it could get tiring, or that I could be on the Malum set thinking ‘Oh, I feel like I’m making the same movie again.’ But luckily, it never felt that way. It just felt like I was making a completely different movie.”
Visually, Malum is much more cinematic than Last Shift. Where Last Shift has a more “first-person shooter video game” quality to it, Malum is a single camera affair that largely dispenses with the original film’s reliance on handheld techniques. A sizable part of the budget was also set aside for practical effects that make Malum’s end sequences much more terrifying. “We have to triple everything,” DiBlasi recalls thinking. “If we’re gonna do it, we have to give them more.”