‘Malignant’ Review: Killer Spirits, Nightmarish Life And A Troubled Past

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There is no doubt that James Wan is an absolute pro when it comes to making creepy movies. Take the highly successful ‘Insidious,’ ‘Saw’ and ‘Conjuring’ franchises, for example. Though he sort of took a break from the horror genre for a while to make some family friendly titles and prove that he still does have the whim for other genres. He helmed the critically acclaimed superhero blockbuster ‘Aquaman’ and the seventh chapter of the ‘Fast Furious’ saga, but now he is back to his first love with his newest project ‘Malignant.’ This movie is a supernatural horror film whose screenplay was written by Akela Cooper from a story by the master of creepy Wan himself and his wife, Ingrid Bisu. Malignant premiered simultaneous in theatres and streaming on September 10 under the Warner Bros banner.

This movie that sits somewhere in between a slasher, a ghost story and a possession flick follows the story of Madison or simply Maddy; a role played by Annabelle Wallis. She has suffered a series of miscarriages and is now heavy with her fourth child. She lives in a haunted house with her abusive husband Derek, a part taken by Jake Abel, who isn’t so nice to his dear wife. He mercilessly roughs her up on this particular day and smashes her head on a wall, leaving her with injuries. Fast forward, a spirit is obviously not happy with his actions and murders Derek in cold blood in a purported home invasion. Now, police suspect Madison as the killer, but soon other people connected to Maddy at some point in her life start getting brutally murdered. To make it worse, she witnesses all these killings via hallucinations. They start digging out the past and soon discover details that will leave audiences collecting their jaws from the floor literally.

For a while, Malignant creeps the audiences to some extent, manifesting itself as a slow-moving thriller tinged with supernatural elements delivered with visually appealing CGI effects. However, as more ridiculously funny scenarios are revealed, the proceedings become more horrendous and wild, leading into a thread of absurd chases and extremely macabre fight sequences in which the antagonist displays his fantastic physical capabilities and his lethal skills with a blade, especially the blood bath in a female’s holding cell.

The storyline has its own ups and downs. For starts the movie takes too long to pick up, the gimmicks feel clichéd, and the dialogue doesn’t make it any better. The movie uses the adoption plot point, which is in plain poor taste portraying that kind of parenthood as terrifying while also touching on the idea of blood relations and the desire to have such, which is equally sinister.

Honestly, for a big chunk of the film, that perspective game is the most appealing dimension of scenes that prove to be more appealing to the mind than the eye. This, however, changes somewhere at the middle of the movie as the narrative shifts gears with a decent amount of great horror movie lunacy, but it takes too much time nearly the entire screen time to get there.

As the narrative progresses, audiences have many questions concerning Gabriel, a monster brought to life by contortionist dancer Marina Mazepa. People wonder who he is, his motive and motivation, and the connection he has with Maddy. It is equally suspenseful as audiences keep guessing though a few snippets are thrown along the way to reveal some clues, it is an astonishing moment when everything all comes together.

The characters are not adequately written. Madison and those around her speak with a boring sense of plain purpose, their words trying to pave their way through the narrative without conveying much in the way of character as they struggle to appear believable.. This limits the opportunity for the characters to ultimately blossom into the storyline. Annabelle Wallis tries her best to embody Maddy, a weird role deeply embedded at the centre of this equally weird movie; however, she manages to find the proper balance between terrified and emotional courage.

In some scenes, the makeup is done pretty well, especially in portraying gut-churning visions that inspire the nightmares. However, a particularly bloody women’s jail scene feels pretty offensive both in terms of costume and makeup.

Besides being a go back to basics kind of a film for Wan, it is also the director’s attempt at the Italian Giallo subgenre popularized by filmmakers like Dario Argento and Mario Bava. However, the flick leans more towards Wan’s style than Giallo, with the director’s signature swooping jibs that convert any space into a haunting nightmare. The film also utilizes the bird’s eye pan of a house as Madison’s visions zoom through each room, momentarily jolting the viewer’s attention. Several set pieces play around with using flashing light bulbs; however, the effect is quite disappointing.

The direction keeps the movie engaging with the horror scenes boasting Wan’s signature, though not as freaky as anticipated but there are some pretty impressive action sequences. Unlike his previous titles, such as the ‘Insidious’ chapters, whose scores were some of the great elements in those films. In this movie, though in the attempt of keeping in line with the films outlook of anything goes, Joseph Bishara score is a mixed throw-in making the compositions more distracting than compelling. At the same time, Desma Murphy gives audiences everything from foggy basements and creepy suburban houses to the underground tunnels of ancient Seattle.

James Wan is definitely a horror maestro and expertly delivers the jump scares, the chills and the freaks with whatever horror flick he takes on. However, with ‘Malignant,’ the inner self doesn’t bust out, and at some point, it feels like he’s holding back and waits too long before finally giving audiences a taste of what he does best. All the same, the final scene is so defiantly demented and executed with such poignancy in such a way that any disappointments suffered earlier in the movie by audiences are instantly forgotten.

Score: 6.5/10

There is no doubt that James Wan is an absolute pro when it comes to making creepy movies. Take the highly successful ‘Insidious,’ ‘Saw’ and ‘Conjuring’ franchises, for example. Though he sort of took a break from the horror genre for a while to make some family friendly titles and prove that he still does have the whim for other genres. He helmed the critically acclaimed superhero blockbuster ‘Aquaman’ and the seventh chapter of the ‘Fast Furious’ saga, but now he is back to his first love with his newest project ‘Malignant.’ This movie is a supernatural horror film whose screenplay was written by Akela Cooper from a story by the master of creepy Wan himself and his wife, Ingrid Bisu. Malignant premiered simultaneous in theatres and streaming on September 10 under the Warner Bros banner.

This movie that sits somewhere in between a slasher, a ghost story and a possession flick follows the story of Madison or simply Maddy; a role played by Annabelle Wallis. She has suffered a series of miscarriages and is now heavy with her fourth child. She lives in a haunted house with her abusive husband Derek, a part taken by Jake Abel, who isn’t so nice to his dear wife. He mercilessly roughs her up on this particular day and smashes her head on a wall, leaving her with injuries. Fast forward, a spirit is obviously not happy with his actions and murders Derek in cold blood in a purported home invasion. Now, police suspect Madison as the killer, but soon other people connected to Maddy at some point in her life start getting brutally murdered. To make it worse, she witnesses all these killings via hallucinations. They start digging out the past and soon discover details that will leave audiences collecting their jaws from the floor literally.

For a while, Malignant creeps the audiences to some extent, manifesting itself as a slow-moving thriller tinged with supernatural elements delivered with visually appealing CGI effects. However, as more ridiculously funny scenarios are revealed, the proceedings become more horrendous and wild, leading into a thread of absurd chases and extremely macabre fight sequences in which the antagonist displays his fantastic physical capabilities and his lethal skills with a blade, especially the blood bath in a female’s holding cell.

The storyline has its own ups and downs. For starts the movie takes too long to pick up, the gimmicks feel clichéd, and the dialogue doesn’t make it any better. The movie uses the adoption plot point, which is in plain poor taste portraying that kind of parenthood as terrifying while also touching on the idea of blood relations and the desire to have such, which is equally sinister.

Honestly, for a big chunk of the film, that perspective game is the most appealing dimension of scenes that prove to be more appealing to the mind than the eye. This, however, changes somewhere in the middle of the movie as the narrative shifts gears with a decent amount of great horror movie lunacy, but it takes too much time nearly the entire screen time to get there.

As the narrative progresses, audiences have many questions concerning Gabriel, a monster brought to life by contortionist dancer Marina Mazepa. People wonder who he is, his motive and motivation, and the connection he has with Maddy. It is equally suspenseful as audiences keep guessing though a few snippets are thrown along the way to reveal some clues, it is an astonishing moment when everything all comes together.

The characters are not adequately written. Madison and those around her speak with a boring sense of plain purpose, their words trying to pave their way through the narrative without conveying much in the way of character as they struggle to appear believable.. This limits the opportunity for the characters to ultimately blossom into the storyline. Annabelle Wallis tries her best to embody Maddy, a weird role deeply embedded at the center of this equally weird movie; however, she manages to find the proper balance between terrified and emotional courage. 

In some scenes, the makeup is done pretty well, especially in portraying gut-churning visions that inspire the nightmares. However, a particularly bloody women’s jail scene feels pretty offensive both in terms of costume and makeup.

Besides being a go back to basics kind of a film for Wan, it is also the director’s attempt at the Italian Giallo subgenre popularized by filmmakers like Dario Argento and Mario Bava. However, the flick leans more towards Wan’s style than Giallo, with the director’s signature swooping jibs that convert any space into a haunting nightmare. The film also utilizes the bird’s eye pan of a house as Madison’s visions zoom through each room, momentarily jolting the viewer’s attention. Several set pieces play around with using flashing light bulbs; however, the effect is quite disappointing.

The direction keeps the movie engaging with the horror scenes boasting Wan’s signature, though not as freaky as anticipated but there are some pretty impressive action sequences. Unlike his previous titles, such as the ‘Insidious’ chapters, whose scores were some of the great elements in those films. In this movie, though in the attempt of keeping in line with the films outlook of anything goes, Joseph Bishara score is a mixed throw-in making the compositions more distracting than compelling. At the same time, Desma Murphy gives audiences everything from foggy basements and creepy suburban houses to the underground tunnels of ancient Seattle.

James Wan is definitely a horror maestro and expertly delivers the jump scares, the chills and the freaks with whatever horror flick he takes on. However, with ‘Malignant,’ the inner self doesn’t bust out, and at some point, it feels like he’s holding back and waits too long before finally giving audiences a taste of what he does best. All the same, the final scene is so defiantly demented and executed with such poignancy in such a way that any disappointments suffered earlier in the movie by audiences are instantly forgotten.

SCORE: 6.5/10

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