by KJ Proulx
From Saw to Aquaman, or Insidious to Furious 7, James Wan has been a filmmaker I’ve always admired, especially when it comes to horror. He’s one of the few mainstream horror filmmakers that hits way more than he misses. I’ve enjoyed almost every single one of his movies, even including critically lukewarm ones like Death Sentence or Insidious: Chapter 2. I was already planning on checking out Malignant when I heard it was his newest directorial effort, but I wasn’t expecting just how different it would be from the rest of his horror work. Here’s why, especially if you’re a horror fan, Malignant is great.
Honestly, even though it still works now and then, I’ve grown pretty tired of big, open houses being the setting of every horror film. For that reason alone, I wanted to roll my eyes when this film started. That’s also a hurdle of my own to get over, so I didn’t let that seep into my enjoyment. Malignant begins with a flashback to give some context as to what may be happening. In the present day, Madison (Annabelle Wallis) continuously has visions of people being brutally murdered. Trying to tell people what this may be, causes quite the stir among the members of the Seattle Police Department. Once the investigation begins and strange occurrences begin, this film doesn’t hold back.
With a nice blend of practical effects, CGI, and some very clever camerawork by cinematographer Michael Burgess, I couldn’t look away from the talent being showcased on-screen. That’s also in part to the fantastic eye that James Wan has as a director. His vision is always clear and you can just tell you’re watching one of his films. For that reason alone, considering how well-done the visuals were in this film, I was simply glued to the screen. On top of that, the shock values here were a total surprise to me.
When it comes to gore just for the sake of gore, sometimes that can completely derail a film for me. When gore is done for a specific reason though and it genuinely shocks you, I have nothing but praise. There is a reveal toward the end of the film that I didn’t see coming at all and what they do with this reveal was very unique. Sure, this reveal will probably not sit well with everyone and it may even ruin the movie for you if you can’t go along with it, but it really worked for me. It was weird, but not at the same time and that’s what made it feel plausible, even though it’s not.
Overall, Malignant’s first act did drag a bit for me, which had me starting to lose interest in the beginning, but when this film gets going, it doesn’t let up. I thought Annabelle Wallis and Maddie Hasson played off each other nicely as sisters and I believed their relationship, as well as the two main detectives, played by George Young and Michole Briana White. This was a very solid cast, working with a very solid screenplay, with an overall solid and unique story. The first act was a bit boring for me as it felt way too familiar, but the film chooses a completely different direction very quickly and it ended up really working for me. Malignant is now in theatres and streaming on HBO Max and it definitely gets a recommendation from me.
Check out the trailer below: