In 1980s Scotland, siblings Jackson (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) and Angela (Florence Pugh) have a tidy scam going, staging phony “cleansings” of alleged haunted houses as a way to con grieving relatives and desperate homeowners. However, Angela – who plays the part of the medium – abruptly begins to have very real visions of the restless dead, not long before the pair take on a job at a rambling former foster home where several girls were once viciously slain. 'Malevolent' has a few tick marks in its favor: some enjoyably musty production design, several genuinely unnerving shocks, and the presence of Pugh, who was so spellbinding in last year’s pitch-black 'Lady Macbeth'. However, director Olaf Fleur Johannesson often seems to be flailing, as though he is uncertain where the plot is heading next or what sort of story he even wants to tell. By the time the film takes a hard left into grisly serial-killer territory, most of the suspense, pathos, and personality have long slipped away.