Director – James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring)
Starring – Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle, The Mummy), Maddie Hasson (Grimm, We Summon the Darkness), and George Young (Marry Me, Joys of Life)
Release Date – 2021
Rating – 3.5/5
I know a lot of my peers in the horror community have a distaste for pop horror. They always try to be edgy by liking extreme horror and refuse to give bigger budgeted films a chance. These horror hipsters have been active on social media bashing the newest release from director James Wan.
I’ll be completely honest, the trailer and artwork did not interest me in his newest genre effort but after seeing some of my horror friends bashing the film I was ready to check it out. I don’t mind a good popcorn horror flick and if this one was truly as bad as they said it was I couldn’t wait to see it. The film is streaming on HBO Max so I decided to check it out yesterday while I was off.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows Maddison (Wallis) who was adopted at a young age. She is attacked in her home by a figure in all black that kills her boyfriend. She’s hurt badly and was expecting at the time but lost the baby during the assault. Since then she has visions of the figure killing people. With the help of her adopted sister she does some research into her past where it is revealed that she had a parasitic twin on the back of her head which was cut off with the rest of it’s face pushed under her skull in hopes of giving her a normal life. Now, twenty some years later, he has grown and is able to control her telepathically. He now uses her body to kill at will without her knowing what is going on around her. **Spoiler Alert**
Malignant wasn’t a bad movie but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting either. I saw some people complain about the film and referred to it as a horrible Basket Case remake. Honestly, I can see why some of you called it that. I also saw others saw it was crazy or bat shit insane. This is something I didn’t really see. As a fan of Troma, Full Moon, and most indie productions I have to say this film was not as wild as many of you lead on. I enjoyed a good bit of this one but I felt that the film did struggle with it’s own identity.
The acting in this one was alright but some of the scenes were a little underwhelming. The cast took some scenes and absolutely gave them their all while other scenes felt a little lazy. I know this cast can deliver unforgettable performances because most of them have done so in other films. However, this film was very inconsistent with a lot of the characters blending into the background.
The story for this is such a mixed bag. We have what could be a phenomenal slasher that works for the most part. With that being said, we get so many layers added to this story that makes it difficult to really understand everything that is going on. Some of the things shown are done so in passing which not only opens up the door for more questions but makes the film drag on even longer than it has to. I could be here all day picking this apart but I wont. As a slasher, we get some fun kills but the films goofy side shows way too often which takes away from the dark atmosphere that the film tries too hard to establish.
Finally, the film delivers some brutal deaths with some great practical effects. I assumed Wan would go the cheap route and give viewers horrible CGI deaths that wouldn’t work out that well. I was surprised to see these amazing death scenes. Also, the mutilated brother looks absolutely phenomenal as well. This is a killer that will stick with you for sometime. With that being said, we have several chase scenes following the killer and the visual effects used are laughable. Any fans of Blade II reading this? Remember the fight scene where Blade scales the light wall? Yea, those visuals looked better than this did.
Overall, Malignant could have been something truly special for the horror genre but it’s evident that Wan was given full control of the film which resulted in him not knowing which direction to take it. It’s worth a watch but keep in mind that it’s a messy flick.