An utterly wild, shocking, disturbing, excessively schlocky and camp riot that sees Wan fully off the leash and gleefully spending those Aquaman millions to fulfil his uncompromised creative vision. Featuring one of the most memorable twists and antagonists in recent horror history and Wan’s unique directorial flair. The only real flaw with the film is the lack of any real character substance outside of Madison.
Written by Jack Ransom
Director James Wan’s return to his grisly horror roots. Malignant sees Madison (Annabelle Wallis) plagued by shocking visions of brutal murders. Her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.
Avoiding any spoilers and key plot details throughout this review, as it is absolutely essential that you go into Malignant with zero knowledge of the big reveal whatsoever. The first half of the film is paced well and crafts a seamless blend of Wan’s supernatural horror, accompanied with mystery narrative traits and tropes. As it progresses the early-00’s Saw detective angle and lashings of Giallo inflicted excess and iconography arrive at the forefront before exploding into an utterly maniacal jaw-dropping final act of pure horror glory.
Tonally the film may be too much for some, as the goofiness and campy silliness of a few of the performances and dialogue choices take centre stage alongside some of the genuinely horrific and gruesome imagery on display. However, it works perfectly as a homage and reinvention of the excessive gory attitudes and tonal blending of those films and genres that inspired it.
The CGI is utilised effectively with some impressive surrealist room dissolving and accentuated augmentation. However practical effects are Wan’s forte and he delivers here in spades. Lashings of blood and gore, superb costume, prosthetic and prop design and meticulously crafted sets help craft a stylised and standout world. The blending of industrial gothic for the hospital, neon tinged motels and house interiors, a myriad of striking shot and colour choices always keep the film consistently visually interesting.
Annabelle Wallis gives a broken, desperate, exhausted and terrified performance, as she begins to piece together what is really going on. Admittedly the rest of the cast get very little in terms of arcs or substance, though the performances are solid and they all serve the plot well enough. The mysterious antagonist is voiced menacingly and certainly will go down as one of the most brutal and uncompromising in recent genre memory.
Malignant is James Wan well and truly unleashed. A tour-de-force in horror filmmaking and unadulterated shocks and thrills. Luring the viewer in with a false sense of familiarity before hitting them with a whirlwind of unique and haunting imagery, visceral carnage and an absolutely rip-roaring reveal.