This article contains spoilers for the Netflix film Malevolent.
There's a nice empathetic quality that sometimes flows through movies about restless spirits. As lore has it, ghosts stick around whenever they have unfinished business: maybe someone murdered them, maybe they forgot about something important while they were still living, maybe they simply don't realize they're dead yet. Netflix's Malevolent, which offers a spin on your classic medium-in-a-haunted-house plot, has a little bit of that same type of ghostly empathy, but fails to do anything all that interesting with it.
In 1980s Glasgow, Scotland (if there was an actual reason for the movie to be set in the '80s, I missed it), four young folks have created a budding con industry for themselves, traveling around to families claiming their houses are being haunted and pretending to drive the spirits away, making sure to collect their paycheck on the way out the door. Angela, played by Florence Pugh, acts as the troupe's "medium," stepping dreamily through shrouded basements and spouting classic ghostbusting lines like, "I've come to see if you would consider leaving this house."
During one of these busts, it turns out that Angela might actually be a bona fide medium after she comes across a spirit in a scary basement filled with mannequins. Soon after, she learns she may have inherited the gift from her mother, who committed suicide five years prior and was believed to be insane because she could hear voices and see things. She becomes reluctant to go on any more fake ghost hunting trips, despite cajoling from her brother Jackson (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), who constantly hypes himself up for his scams by listening to motivational cassette tapes.