Malignant is a 2021 American horror film directed by James Wan from a screenplay by Akela Cooper, based on an original story by Wan, Ingrid Bisu, and Cooper. The film stars Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, and Marina Mazepa.
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 is one of the most deranged, strange, lunatic, suprising, and chaotic films of the year, and I loved every second of it. This is another gem from James Wan who proves again he's one of the best horror minds of this generation, but I do think this is a film you will either love or hate.
I went into it without knowing anything outside of it being a James Wan film. I thought it was going to be another haunted house story, but I was pleasantly surprised. This review is going to be pretty short at least until we get to the spoiler section, because I think the best way to watch it is completely blind. Don't watch any trailers, if you want to see the film just go and see it. Whether you love it or hate it you will be satisfied because this film is an experience.
You're going to be using your emotions and mind to navigate this maze of a film and I love that. I'm going to be vague and as spoiler free as possible, but genre wise this film isn't one I would consider primary horror. Instead it feels more like a slasher crime thriller with horror and action elements and a little mystery on top.
There isn't a ton I can talk about, but I have to mention James Wan. I love that man and everything he puts out. It takes a true master of the genre to blend so many elements together and make it work as well as it did. There's a sequence where we follow the main character through a house from an overhead camera view and it's beautiful to watch.
The jump scares work for the most part. Towards the second act they do get a little predictable but because that's not its main objective it still works unlike some other films that we won't name. The Nun... Annabelle... Truth or Dare, but again no names.
This film gives me hope in horror or at least mainstream horror. People want to see jump scare heavy films, this is one but it's one with substance. And to those saying everything in horror has been done, this film proves there is still originality out there.
Overall the first act of this film will have you asking wtf, the second act will have you saying wtf, and the third act will have you yelling holy s***. I would consider this another great film in James Wan's catalogue, and a film that I absolutely loved.
The acting was solid but at times questionable. The opening scene was pretty bad acting wise. It made me kind of take a step back. There's also some questionable dialogue and delivery throughout the film. It's so specific that it almost feels deliberate. At the beginning there's a scene with objects moving and the guys reaction is as bad as it is relatable.
The film almost has a campy feel to it, but thankfully the core of the cast is really good. Annabelle Wallis is really good in the film, and she carries most of it. I'm also so happy that it wasn't a normal awkward panic performance that we see all too often.
There's a lot to talk about. So the big twist of this film is that the killer or entity is really her twin brother living as a teratoma on the back of her head. It was some Harry Potter Voldemort type stuff, was some terrifying, disgusting, and downright creepy imagery.
So the film starts off with a rough scene in a hospital. Again with some very questionable acting and to be honest the entire thing almost felt like a SNL sketch. Then we get to the main film where immediately everything hits the wall. The husband is killed by a shadowy figure and the main character gets knocked out.
From there we go back to the house where we have some traditional haunted house things. I was pretty upset with the main character for deciding to return to the home where her husband was brutally murdered by a shadowy figure that she clearly sees. And there's stupid decisions throughout this film. She returns home where a shadowy figure opens her door, but she still decides to sleep in the house and she doesn't report any of it. Her sister decides to go to an abandoned hospital in the middle of the night. Characters follow weird noises and investigate or they completely ignore weird things. I can't put my finger on it but it almost feels deliberate.
You have those dumb decisions but nothing happens. The sister goes to a Hogwarts castle in the middle of the night and hears some noises but ultimately is completely fine. A guy stupidly follows footsteps into a closet but there is no jump scare. The scare comes later when he finally gets into bed. That subversion of expectations really helps the film out on the horror end.
So the twist is that she's having dreams of deaths occurring. Every night she sees a new person die and that leads to the second act where it's a crime thriller. We follow a cop trying to solve the case and the killer killing folks. This is what the majority of the film is, and that's why I wouldn't consider it a straight up horror film. Some people will hate it and some people will love it.
Then we get our big twist and the crazy yet nearly perfect third act. Some questions I had was how did the twin call and talk to the police while she was in front of the cops. They have a get out of jail free card where they say the twin can create a reality for her, but still I have some questions.
Overall this was as ambitious as it was strange. As creepy as it was weird, and as bloody as it was original. I love horror especially when it's done in such a fun way. Again you will either love it or you will hate it, but this from checked all the boxes for me.
It was creepy with a great atmosphere and mystery. It had some solid scares and bloody kills. This was one of the best slashers I've seen in quite some time and a film I absolutely loved.
© 2021 Royce Proctor Jr