Malignant (2021) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
JAMES WAN has always had a distinct directing style. The horror film director burst onto the scene with Saw, forever changing the landscape of not only horror movies, but the manner in which studios promote and greenlight particular projects. Malignant stands as a firm reminder of this as Wan ramps his famous gore and lunacy to the max in what can only be described as a blood-soaked banquet of insanity.
The film opens with a flashback at a mental institution where Dr Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie) and her colleagues successfully recapture a paranormal creature they're assessing. After jumping forward several years, we are introduced to Madison (Annabelle Wallis) who is trapped in an abusive relationship with Derek (Jake Abel). But when a terrifying event befalls the seemingly-happy couple, Madison, along with her friend Sydney (Maddie Hasson), are left to uncover the truth behind Madison's constant nightmares and whether these horrifying hallucinations are a sign of things to come.
Despite sounding like a chilling tale of doubting reality, Malignant is presented more like a parody of the genre, embracing its more ridiculous side instead of focusing on the most important element of a horror movie: horror. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though as these out-of-place escapades turn James Wan's thriller into a competent comedy, littered with laughs courtesy of cheap jump scares and visuals that wouldn't feel out of place decades prior.
Malignant may sound like a horrendous barrel of laughs, but ironically, this is where the film truly shines as the campiness of Madison's torment, as well as the paranormal look and feel of the antagonist, were intentional. Wan wanted to recapture the feeling of an old school horror feature; a feat which he's successfully achieved. His love for the genre is on full display throughout as while the film itself didn't turn out quite the way he wanted to, Wan's imaginative story prowess is something to be admired as I can confidently say Malignant was never boring during its most spine-chilling and gut-wrenching scenes.
James Wan's latest horror feature may not be on the same calibre of some of his previous works such as Saw and The Conjuring, but what Malignant lacks in quality, it makes up for with ingenuity, constantly throwing new ideas and questions at the audience in order to keep them engaged; a necessity considering the lack of effective scares. If you're looking for a movie to watch with friends on a Friday night, Malignant is an easy recommendation; just don't expect to find the magnum opus of horror here.