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Malignant #Movie Review

Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.

Malignant Movie Poster

Release Date: 2021 | Runtime: 1hr 51min | Genre: Horror | Source: Theatre

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Malignant Review

This is going to be a tricky one to write without getting into spoilers because all I want to do is shout about all of the things that happen in this movie. It makes me sad that as time goes on, people won’t be able to experience Malignant the same way I did. I saw it opening night, having only seen the fairly bland trailer and knowing that it was supposed to be pretty good. By the time I was walking out, I was texting anyone I could to say “holy shit you have to see this movie oh my god I need to talk about this movie wake up now so we can talk about this movie!”

Malignant tells the story of Madison (Annabella Wallis) who has one of those mysterious backgrounds where she can’t remember anything before the age of eight. On top of dealing with her abusive, asshole husband, she has this other problem where she keeps having incredibly vivid visions of people being murdered by a weird figure only known as “Gabriel.” How does it all connect? In a way that I don’t dare spoil as it needs to be seen to even be believed.

Pulling up James Wan’s filmography has made it really hit home just how big a fan of his I really am. Hell I even love the movies that are considered his “weaker efforts”, such as Death Sentence and Dead Silence. Wan is the kind of guy who often swings for the fence. He is the kind of guy who knows that you don’t even bother making an Aquaman movie if it doesn’t feature a drum playing octopus and Dolph Lundgren riding around on a sea horse. I feel like many filmmakers would look at the content of this script and say “that is way too out there. We can’t do this.” I can’t express enough how grateful I am that somebody instead saw it and said “oh absolutely.”

Even before the third act, the entire movie seems to exist in a heightened reality. The dialogue and acting feel ripped straight out of a soap opera, complete with the occasional “whuuuuuut?!” reaction from a character that seems like it should be leading into a commercial break. Hell the opening scene is so over the top that I expected it to end with Madison waking from a dream but nope, that’s just the movie it is. I’ve seen some refer to all of this as being “unintentionally hilarious” but I think it’s absolutely intentional. Malignant is setting out to be a big budget B movie and that goes hand in hand with blunt exposition and surface level character emotions.

In recent years, Wan has of course been known for The Conjuring and Insidious franchises and the marketing for this movie lead many, myself included, to think that this would follow in their footsteps. I loved that this movie often uses that expectation against you. I naturally expected certain scenes to play out in a specific way, most of which would end with a loud jump scare and it was rare that things played out how I was expecting. There’s hardly any jump scares at all now that I think about it. Just old fashioned suspense and gore!

It helps that Wan also lends a lot of creative flair to what would be fairly standard horror set pieces. Why just watch someone run through a house when the camera can look down from directly above them as they go from room to room, Metal Gear Solid style? There are lots of long takes with careful staging and choreography and it really gives the whole thing a great sense of style.

Then there’s the third act and obviously I’m not going to say anything here but my god. I would have loved to be in the room when the studio people first saw this movie and THAT happened. The lights come up and they all look to Wan who just smiles and says “That’s right! That’s the ending and fuck you!” Then he backs out of the room giving double middle fingers. I wasn’t there but I’m pretty confident that’s how it all went down. Seriously though, I absolutely adore where this movie goes for the final act. If I hadn’t been in a theatre I would have stood up and cheered. I realize it’s not going to be for everybody (including the guy in the row behind me who loudly proclaimed “this is dumb”) but it was certainly for me and I was riding high all night.

The best I can figure is after Aquaman made a billion dollars, Wan had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted and we should all be thanking him every day that he gave us this. I read that he wanted Malignant to feel like a movie you would find in the back of a video store in the 80’s and I think he nailed it. It really does feel like something you randomly grab, are completely taken aback by and then run around telling everybody “oh man you gotta see this thing.” Its numbers out of the gate aren’t strong but I feel like this is one that will remain a strong part of the horror conversation for a long while.

Malignant Movie Trailer
Published inMovie Reviews

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