“Malignant” stars Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, and Michole Briana White. Released on September 10, 2021, the film has a woman being tormented by shocking visions.
The film was directed by James Wan, who also directed films such as “Saw”, “Insidious”, and “The Conjuring”. We all had our fun with our summer of terror. Now it’s time for us to experience a new season of horror. This latest film sees James Wan returning to his ordinary terrifying roots after stepping out of his comfort zone to handle the action genre with “Furious 7” and “Aquaman”. While it was named after Wan’s graphic novel, Malignant Man, it sadly had nothing to do with the source material. Maybe we might get an actual film adaptation in the future? Only time will tell. Until then, I guess we’ll have to do with this piece of originality. With that in mind, let’s dive right into this nightmare and see if it’s another frightening win for the director.
The story follows Madison Lake (Wallis), a woman who lives in Seattle after a strained marriage with her husband. She begins to have frightening visions of a mysterious man violently murdering people, only to realize that the gruesome events she sees are happening in real life. Madison will have to uncover the truth behind the killer and stop him from harming anyone else. James Wan usually has a way to keep the atmospheric creeps engaging and wild when it comes to the genre. Whether the scares are effective or not, it’s hard not to admire the director’s signature style and his ability to provide bone-chilling terror. “Malignant” is no different as it combines the essence of a slasher film with some supernatural horror vibes and mystery elements. I’ve been hearing from plenty of people that this film is pretty crazy, which caught me off guard considering how the trailer looked. Then again, I have seen plenty of absurd stuff from the other horror films almost every day. Some of them are good, and some of them are just plain idiotic. After experiencing this film for myself, I would agree with them about the “crazy” part. While it isn’t something that will change the genre, the film is a simple yet highly engaging creep-fest that packed quite a bloody punch in its style, kills, and atmosphere. It’s the type of horror film that embraces the ridiculousness of its plot points while maintaining the somberness of its atmosphere and frightening imagery. The final result doesn’t always work all of the time, mainly due to its genre cliches, the lack of memorable scares, and its flawed script. However, it had enough intrigue in its scenario and characters to keep me invested in its bloodbath. The film marks the latest collaboration between James Wan and Annabelle Wallis, following their work on “Annabelle”. Wallis' performance as Madison was a riveting sight as she manifested the fear and nuance into a character who’s haunted by the killer and her mysterious past. Maddie Hasson and George Young also turned in some good performances as Sydney Lake and Detective Kekoa Shaw, respectively. Another element that made the film work for me was Wan’s directorial style. Like the first two “Conjuring” films, “Malignant” has James Wan envision the distinctive shots with significant effect. Wide-angle shots, overhead shots, panning shots that stick close to the action. You name it. Wan has it. The cinematography helped deliver a stylish and enthusiastic depiction of its haunting atmosphere and R-rated violence. He may not be a perfect director, but the film proved that his style is superbly fitting for the modern horror genre. I also have to say that the third act was the best part of the film. Once you get past its ordinary slasher mystery aspect in the first two acts, you’ll be rewarded with a well-executed finale that’s both unbelievably dumb and gleefully violent. Without giving too much away, it involves a horrifically disgusting twist and a lot of entertaining kills. I know this has been said more times than I can count, but I’m going to say it anyway. It’s something that you have to see for yourself without looking it up online.
Overall, “Malignant” may not reach the high standards of the genre, but it successfully made a killing in its entertainment values. Despite its screenplay favoring gruesome kills over strong storytelling from time to time, the film is a deliciously outrageous experience that showcased its bloody nature and stellar camerawork. With its decent cast, direction, atmospheric imagery, and chaotic finale, this is another worthy piece of horror filmmaking from James Wan. It’s not something that’ll keep me up all night, but I enjoyed it well enough to fuel my frightful needs. If you appreciate some of Wan’s other works, you’ll probably like this one as well.