Reimagining his 2014 film Last Shift, filmmaker Anthony DiBlasi's Malum follows a new police officer who is literally haunted by her father's past encounters with a malevolent cult during one final shift at a decommissioned police station. With Malum coming to theaters on March 31st via Welcome Villain Films, we caught up with DiBlasi and actor Natalie Victoria, who reprises her role as Marigold from Last Shift with a reimagined twist!

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for us, Anthony, and congratulations on your new movie Malum, a reimagining of your film Last Shift, which was very well-received when it was released in 2015. How did you initially decide to revisit the story of Last Shift nearly one decade later?

Anthony DiBlasi: I was introduced to Luke Lebeau through a mutual friend and he had just formed Welcome Villain with his partners.  We hit it off and he asked me what I thought about exploring the world of Last Shift again. It was something Scott Poiley and I always talked about doing as either a sequel or prequel story. I was completely happy with Last Shift when we finished it, but because of its budget size we had to leave a lot of storytelling on the table. Also, I felt Last Shift was a theatrical film, it was meant to be watched in a theater with a crowd, but it never received a theatrical run in the States. So with Malum, we felt reimagining it was the best way to go. Scott and I were able to open up the world and characters, deepen the mythology and amp the scares. And we knew we were doing a theatrical run, so I could design the viewing experience around that.

While there are similarities to Last Shift, Malum is still very much its own thing and takes this story in some surprising and bold directions. When you were writing the screenplay for Malum with Scott Poiley, how did you decide when to deviate from the path you had followed in Last Shift?

Anthony DiBlasi: We had some key scenes that we wanted to pull into Malum from Last Shift, either little character moments or a scare, but even those we changed a bit to give fans of Last Shift a new experience. But mainly we felt like we were writing a new film. We changed character motivations from the very first page, we wanted a more proactive Jessica Loren, so that change alone took us down a different path. Also, we wanted to deepen the mythology of the cult and create our own set of beliefs for them. Ultimately, we wanted to create an experience for new viewers, but also make sure people who enjoyed Last Shift could watch this and feel like they were getting something completely new.

In a Q&A you did with Daily Dead back in 2015, you mentioned that you filmed Last Shift at an abandoned police station in Florida. Where did you film Malum, and did that location impact how you wrote the script at all?

Anthony DiBlasi: On Malum, we didn’t have the luxury of finding the location before writing the script, but we knew we still wanted to shoot in a real police station. We were lucky to find a decommissioned station in Louisville, Kentucky, and it was massive and in the heart of the city. It added so much character to the film. Also, once I scouted the location it had so many unique qualities Scott and I went back and reworked the script to utilize everything we could from the station. Some of the best scares in the movie were created specifically from the building’s unique spaces.

How many days were in your shooting schedule for Malum?

Anthony DiBlasi: It ended up at 22 days.

Similar to Juliana Harkavy in Last Shift, this movie really hinges on Jessica Sula’s performance, and she does an amazing job taking audiences on her character’s harrowing journey. What was it like working with Jessica, and what made her the perfect fit for the lead role in this movie?

Anthony DiBlasi: Juliana was so great in Last Shift and really carried that film and I knew the actress coming on to play Jessica in this film would have that same responsibility. I think in the first film, Loren is very much a person at the wrong place at the wrong time. Her motivations are out of a type of honor. In this film, we knew we wrote more of a mystery. And Jessica Loren was coming into the story with a massive chip on her shoulder. Jessica Sula just really embodied that. She approached it in a very stoic way and I knew her journey would feel very earned. Both during production and on the page, Jess would be deconstructed emotionally over the course of the film and Jessica Sula was just very enthusiastic about that journey. And I knew this would be exhausting for her, it’s a film where the lead is in almost every scene and that can be grueling. But at the end of the day we had a blast on set, we got along very well, and I love what she’s created for this role.

Malum features jaw-dropping practical effects by the amazing team at RussellFX. How important was it for you to collaborate with RussellFX to create nightmare-inducing practical effects to bring the horrors of Malum to undead life?

Anthony DiBlasi: RussellFX and I clicked in our earliest conversations, I knew there would be a lot of pressure on the effects team involved because of our prep schedule and the amount that had to be accomplished. And I knew the Russells could deliver on the quality of gore that was required. I did some rough sketches and storyboards early on and we shared inspirational images back and forth, and I was blown away with what they came back with. I think they definitely raised the bar in Malum.

Looking back at your time on set, is there a favorite or memorable moment that stands out?

Anthony DiBlasi: I had a blast working with the cast on Malum, I think midway through the schedule the Flock of the Low God main players came in—Clarke Wolfe, Morgan Lennon and Chaney Morrow—and the set was a buzz, the villains had arrived. We shot their interrogation footage and it was great to play around with them and have them change up their characters on the fly. It was a great way for them to mold a performance and for us to really figure out who the Flock of the Low God was.

Do you have any plans to expand the world of Malum in a potential sequel or prequel?

Anthony DiBlasi: I’d love to expand the world more. Scott and I had several ideas regarding backstories for the Flock, so we have places we can take it. We’ll see how Malum does with fans, but it’s something I’d love to jump back into.

What has it been like teaming up with Welcome Villain Films as you prepare to release Malum to the masses?

Anthony DiBlasi: From the get-go, I loved what they were planning, I think they have a fresh approach to producing and distribution. They have an extensive marketing background, so launching and branding is their specialty. And they have a kick-ass name. Welcome Villain, you can’t get much cooler than that.

I understand that when you first moved to Los Angeles, you worked as an assistant to the legendary Clive Barker and collaborated with him for more than a decade. What did you learn from working with Barker that has helped you in your career as a filmmaker and storyteller?

Anthony DiBlasi: Working with Clive for so many years was a blessing. I learned from the best. I think what he taught me most is that the horror genre is important. People need it in their lives. We need to face that darkness in a safe environment, it’s meant to be cathartic. Horror can scare us, but it can also move us, it can inform us of the beauty in our lives and that’s something I always try to do with my films: make them feel something on the way out the door.

With Malum coming to theaters on March 31st, what other projects do you have coming up that you’re excited about, and where can our readers go online to keep up to date on your work?

Anthony DiBlasi: My wife Natalie Victoria and I are writing together, so we have a few projects coming up. Right now you can find me on Instagram at @antdiblasi.

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for us, Natalie, and congratulations on your role in Anthony DiBlasi’s Malum, a reimagining of DiBlasi’s Last Shift! As the only person to appear in both Malum and Last Shift, what was it like to step back into this world as an actor nearly one decade after Last Shift was released?

Natalie Victoria: Well, thank you! I am so excited to be acting again and have such an amazing opportunity that I will always thank Anthony for, truly. I mean, what actor gets to play the same role in two different movies—but has the freedom to reimagine the performance again!? Such a cool thing! As an actor, I tend to leave everything on the table with every performance, giving it my all. So to reimagine Marigold was going to be a challenge, and I knew it. I believe creating characters is 50% writing and 50% acting and Anthony definitely wrote a wild ride for Marigold in Malum. I knew I had to get over my imposter syndrome and self doubt, and just GET TO WORK and dig in so I could live up to the expectations this version of Marigold demanded from me as an artist. I wanted to bring more confidence to her character, a hint of danger and unhingeness, but yet that relatability is still present. I pulled a lot of inspiration from the amazing actress, Glenn Close, in Fatal Attraction. Ultimately, my goal was for fans to watch the reimagined version of Marigold, enjoy the ride, and never know the same actress played both roles (unless they looked it up later on IMDb). I wanted to completely disappear into her. I think fans will be surprised by this take on Marigold compared to how she was portrayed in Last Shift, or at least that is my hope. :)

What was it like working with your husband, director Anthony DiBlasi, on Malum? Did you get to collaborate on your character’s backstory prior to filming?

Natalie Victoria: While Anthony and I are a writing team, we didn’t write this movie Malum together. We kept strong boundaries in place, allowing him to recreate what he felt Marigold should be in this reimagining without my direct input. Anthony let me read the script only when it was finished, and I had no idea he wrote the role for me until much later in the film process—well after the audition process—so I didn’t really collaborate on Marigold’s character with Anthony until that time. Malum is my second outing working with Anthony on set in the director/actor partnership, and I love working with Anthony because (although he loves to torture me) he pushes me further than anyone else I have ever worked with, and as an actor you want that from a director. I love a good challenge, and I am always up for it! If you are not challenging yourself as an artist, you are not growing. As a director, Anthony has a very specific creative vision of what he wants your character to be in the bigger vision of his film. However, what makes Anthony really fun to work with is that he is also willing to throw that vision out the window on set—free you as an artist—and let you “play” and try out different ideas and ways of doing things after take 1. For me, this is where the magic happens—in the moment, just letting that facet of emotions run, exploring, and bringing the character to life on camera in the most visceral way possible. I love it!

Jessica Sula does an amazing job taking audiences on her character’s harrowing journey throughout her hellish night in Malum. What was it like working with Jessica on this film?

Natalie Victoria: Jess is going to blow audiences away with her powerful performance in Malum, and I can’t wait! She is wonderful to work with—I first saw her as the cheerleader role in SPLIT and I immediately told my husband, “Oh, she is a scene-stealer! She is REALLY good!” And he agreed—so now having Jess cast as the lead in Malum and an opportunity to work with her, I was excited. She brings a silent strength to this role that is almost stoic, but you know it’s masking something hiding beneath. And I loved watching her on set go through those highs and lows unwrapping each level of Officer Loren’s character. I don’t think many people realize how difficult that is to do as an actor, and Jess Sula absolutely NAILS IT!

Looking back at your time on set, is there a favorite or memorable moment that stands out?

Natalie Victoria: Getting thrown out of a semi-moving car onto cement was an excellent moment for me. Ha! But seriously, I love doing my own stunts on films—so I was over the moon when the Welcome Villian guys and Anthony agreed to let me do it in Malum. I was like, "YES! Let’s gooooooo!"

Malum features jaw-dropping practical effects by the amazing team at RussellFX. What was it like to collaborate with RussellFX to bring the nightmare fuel of Malum to undead life?

Natalie Victoria: RIGHT!?!? The RussellFX team did a great job on Malum. I strongly believe movie fans appreciate good practical effects as much (if not more) than digital effects. Digital is great, but these days many filmmakers tend to overuse it vs. using it as one tool among many to achieve certain visuals on screen. Every tool has its place, and for Malum, practical effects were definitely top of mind. I know movie fans are not going to be disappointed with Malum. As an actor, I love practical effects because it immediately provokes a real reaction from you while in character. Great practical effects like the ones from the team at RussellFX really allow actors to switch their thinking brains off and jump into a more instinctive and primal state, allowing you to really bring out those magic moments on film. I remember being on my first feature film and watching the stunt guys test squibs—and begging them to let me try one (which I did!)—and what a rush! Hahaha. That said, in my role as Marigold, I didn’t get to experience as much of the jaw-dropping practical effects from the RussellFX team as other characters. Maybe on the next one?

I understand that you’ve been writing with Anthony and developing projects for several years now. In addition to Malum, what other projects do you have coming up that you’re excited about, and where can our readers go online to keep up to date on your work?

Natalie Victoria: Anthony says it was a natural progression for us to become a writing team since he was always running his scripts by me and ideas for feedback over the years, and we have been collaborating on that stuff for some time now behind the scenes. I also have been writing since I was a kid—mostly short form in the advertising world and also monologues and shorts for myself and other actors in Hollywood. So yes, we are excited to officially be a screenwriting team now on a slew of feature film projects we are developing. Right now, we have a new thriller script out called The Step Counter, which is a female-driven story in the vein of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. We are also working on three other projects currently; one is a family comedy/drama, one is an action adventure, and we have a horror project we are in the early stages on that we are both really excited about! We just love movies and good storytelling and great memorable characters—no matter the genre. So we are keeping really busy and focused these days on creating some new stuff for movie fans. Be sure to follow Anthony and I on IMDb, where we always include our social links and websites so everyone can see what we are up to.

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.