SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2021
STARRING: ANNABELLE WALLIS, MADDIE HASSON, GEORGE YOUNG, MICHOLE BRIANA WHITE
DIRECTED BY: JAMES WAN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
There’s something different about James Wan. His brand of horror, the dedication he has to the genre, and the product he turns out, moves him above the field in many ways. He’s not just one of the best at doing it, he also lifts other talents up around him, and sometimes he holds a gem in his pocket, waiting to unleash it, showing off just how good he truly is. Malignant will blindside a lot of audiences. Even those watching that know the kind of horror movies James Wan has made will be shocked, dipping back into what he made in Saw or Dead Silence, keeping the scares constant with what I viewed as a new brand of horror. I’ll do my best to keep away any and all spoilers with Malignant, but this is a horror movie that keeps you leaning forward, minute by minute and then hits with a left hook that nobody will see coming. It’s part giallo horror, part Stuart Gordon gore, and a David Cronenberg oddity. The final result is a movie experience unlike any other.
The lead character is Madison (Annabelle Wallis in a relatively unrecognizable look), a nurse, working a double shift while pregnant, and arriving home to her abusive boyfriend. He throws her against the wall, cracking her head, drawing blood, and giving us an image that this is a woman on her last leg. Soon after this abuse, we see a dark shadow figure enter the home, murdering the abusive boyfriend, and now stalking Madison in her dreams. Is the entity real or in her mind is the constant question for the first two acts of Malignant, and then the third act turns into something entirely different, something much more disturbing than anything the audience would have in mind.
It’s not that James Wan isn’t capable of delivering a bloody gore fest. This is the director of Saw, for crying out loud, but Malignant is something else entirely. A monster movie, with the night stalking terror of A Nightmare on Elm Street installment, and then exploding with violent action. It’s easy to say Malignant is a horror film, but it’s also, either intentionally or unintentionally the best pro-choice film of 2021. It’s a movie about a woman’s body and what she is able to do with it. Although Wan might not be the director you would think dealing in this topic, his co-writers Ingrid Bisu and Akela Cooper certainly have the voice to make a statement. Either way, the entire production of Malignant is something to behold, and the alternative of movies would never take these kinds of risks.
The first two acts of Malignant feel like standard tropes of horror movies and Wan plays a bit off the police procedures that his Saw series has become. The two officers on the various murder cases- all that seem to involve Madison in a mysterious way- detective Kekoa Shaw (What a name!- played by George Young) and Regina Moss (Michole Briana White) have banter that feels ripped from a campy cop show, which will be off putting to some, but is obviously Wan having fun with his characters before his big third act reveal. And when that reveal finally arrives, not a single soul, no matter how well versed in the horror genre, will be prepared for where Malignant goes.
Malignant is one of the best and most unique movies of 2021. That’s not hyperbole, because movies like Malignant don’t get made, and the risk involved tends to outweigh the productions audiences will see. The praise belongs to Wan, who allowed his love for the genre, his passion for trying different things, and the courage to scare the audience in the most messed up of ways. It starts as a movie that you’re not sure what it is, and then it grows on you, increasing to a massive size of insane horror proportions. I hope I didn’t spoil anything and I hope I’ve enticed you to see what’s inside Malignant.
MALIGNANT IS PLAYING IN THEATERS AND ON HBOMAX THIS FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 10TH
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady