Malice (2011) – By Duane L. Martin

I rarely review web series, and in general, we don’t review them often for a variety of reasons. Often, we’re asked to review them when they’re just getting started and only have a couple of episodes, or we’re asked to review them two or three seasons in where the time involved to go through it all is prohibitive. Recently, I was asked by Matthew James Gulbranson, who appeared in a film we reviewed here in Rogue Cinema previously called The Pharmacist, to check out this web series he was in called Malice, created by Philip cook. I went to it’s YouTube channel and checked out the first episode, and when I saw what an incredibly well done production it was, and what it was all about, I got really excited about reviewing it.

Alice’s father had been in Afghanistan, and his tour just ended. Now he’s out of the military and back home with his family. Her mother had turned to wine to help her deal with day to day life, and was finally starting to get better now that her husband was back home. Things seemed to be looking up for Alice and her older sister Abby. Then they got the call. Alice’s grandmother had died, and her mother inherited her house. Quickly they packed up and moved into the new house in a new town, and it was like they al got a chance to have a fresh start. Alice and her sister started school at a local Catholic school, Alice’s mom wasn’t drinking as much anymore and her father was settling back into normal life again. Aside from them not liking their new school much, things were really pretty ok. Then things started happening. As it turns out, the house is right next door to a cemetery, and a ghostly, shadow spirit of a child begins to haunt the family. One night, after Alice gets her first good look at the shadow child, she looks out the window and sees her mother walking off into the woods with a glass of wine in her hand and she disappears. Then suddenly, messages begin appearing on the walls, written in blood. Alice’s father gets her and her sister practiced up with weapons in an effort to defend the family, but then, just as suddenly as Alice’s mom disappeared, her father disappears as well, with another message left on the wall after his disappearance, saying, "We are family now." Now the two sisters are on their own, and Alice is walking around with her father’s M-16 determined to protect them from whatever’s causing all of this. That’s the end of episode six, which is the current episode.

This description of the story is really quite compressed, but should be sufficient to give you a bit of an idea of what the story is about. It is however woefully inadequate to express the macabre nature of the story. Each episode runs from around five and a half to seven minutes or so, and one leads you into the next as you become more and more eager to see what happens next.

Visually, and from a general production standpoint, I’m actually shocked this is a web series, because the quality is just amazing. The CGI and visual effects are excellent and really add to the story rather than detracting from it, as it can if it’s not done well or used properly.

The characters in the story all feel like individuals. No cardboard cutouts here. The acting is excellent and they really bring the characters to life. If I have one complaint about this web series, it’s that I wish each episode was a bit longer to allow the characters to breathe and grow more. I have no doubt they will over the course of the series though, and Matthew mentioned that Philip is planning on turning the series into a feature film, which I would absolutely love to see happen. I believe this web series could also very easily be turned into an actual television series. The talent and production quality is there to do it. Yes, it’s that good.

I’ve actually taken the time to watch three or four web series in my day, but I really don’t generally get into them. I think the big turn off for me is that when you reach the end, you have to wait an indeterminate amount of time for the next episiode, and you’re never sure when it’s going to continue, if it’s going to continue, or how many episodes it’s going to continue on for. In this case, I just don’t care. I’m subscribed to the series’ YouTube channel and I’ll be waiting with eager anticipation for the next episode. It’s so good, it sucks you in from the get go and makes you want more.

Do yourself a favor and check out this web series. It’s original, it’s entertaining and it’s creepy, and I can’t recommend it enough.

You can check out the series on the Malice YouTube channel here. Be sure to subscribe to the channel as well so you’ll know when the new episodes come out.