Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Warning: Mild spoilers ahead
Plot: Madison is paralysed by shocking visions of grisly murders and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.
Review: There’s not a horror fan on the planet that hasn’t heard the name James Wan. A modern day master of horror, he’s written, directed and/or produced some of the most iconic horror movies of the modern day era with films like Saw, Demonic, Insidious, Dead Silence and of course The Conjuring franchise. So when I saw he was dipping his toe into the genre once again with Malignant you just know I wasn’t going to miss out. So does his latest live up to the standards we expect from him? Well, it’s a lot of yes and a little bit of no.
The good bits first. Wan is a genius when it comes to cool cinematography and at no point did he let me down here. There were so many visually stunning moments I could call out here but my favourite has to be the scene in the jail followed by a jaw-dropping, wonderfully brutal fight sequence in a police station. Not since the first Terminator movie have I seen a villain take on a police station with such bloody and visceral efficiency.
Horror fans will delight as Wan pulls no punches when it comes to the gory kills this antagonist pulls off, most of which brought to mind the giallo-inspired horror works of Dario Argento. In fact there’s a lot of different movie inspirations that can be found here. There were shades of Basket Case, Patrick, Deep Red, Suspiria, and even a scene that took me back to one of my favourite horror video games, Alan Wake (but that’s probably just me). It all comes together to make one of the most visually entertaining horror movies I’ve seen in some time.
Annabelle Wallis, who’s no stranger to James Wan’s world with her last role in Annabelle, plays Madison, a woman in an abusive relationship who has also had to suffer through multiple miscarriages. Her life becomes a living nightmare when she starts seeing through the eyes of a vicious killer as he stalks and takes out his victims one by one. As the story progresses and she becomes a suspect in said murders Madison, who has no memory of her early years before her adoption, must figure out her past if she’s to stop the killings and save herself and her loyal and loving sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson).
The story as it unfolds turns out to be a freaky one and as much as you might be able to figure out on your own, I don’t think many people will see the twist coming. It’s one doozy of a twist and while it will take a certain level of imagination to go along with it, I was willing to leave logic at the door and enjoy this for what it was, an over-the-top horror movie.
Now what I wasn’t too happy with was the lack of real scares to be found here. Looking back at nearly all of James Wan’s horror filmography there wasn’t one movie that didn’t have a few scary moments. Even the lesser films like Dead Silence and Demonic manage to have scenes that were genuinely chilling. Malignant plays more like a horror action movie and at no time did I find any of it scary. Now maybe that’s just me and I can easily see casual movie viewers jumping and screaming their heads off at some of the stuff that happens here, especially moments that play with light and dark (similarly to what was found in Lights Out), but for this horror fan none of Malignant, not one moment, managed to elicit that kind of reaction out of me. And for that I came away a bit disappointed.
Overall though, Malignant is a well-crafted, visually engaging horror movie that takes the tropes found in classic horror movies like the ones I mentioned earlier and delivers them in a way that feels fresh and fun to behold. It’s not scary (again, just my point of view) but it’s a wild R-rated ride of blood, gore and likeable characters you don’t mind spending time with. So if any of that sounds like a good time to you, definitely give Malignant a go.
Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
So how would you rate Malignant? And you can check out more James Wan horror content below:
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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