Malignant (2021) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Malignant (2021) Review

Horrorific content by Ciarán Coleman on October 11th, 2021 | Movie Review | Slasher, Cursed, Psychological, Madness, Mystery

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It’s about a woman who starts having visions of people getting murdered, visions she soon realises are real.

Malignant was directed by James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring…) and stars Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle), George Young, Jake Abel, Maddie Hasson (We Summon the Darkness), Jacqueline McKenzie (Deep Blue Sea) and Paula Marshall (Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth).

A new vision of terror

Malignant Review

First things first, this is probably the most polarising horror film of recent years. Not because of any excessive gore (although it has its fair share of it), awful acting (though not all of it’s great) or bad directing (even though this definitely isn’t James Wan's best) but out of sheer craziness. ‘Malignant’ seems to make intentional choices either purely to aggravate horror purists or to push the limits of where average viewers draw the line. At its core, the film is Wan’s passion project; messy, violent and tons of fun.

I didn’t love ‘Malignant’. I really, really liked it and definitely loved elements of it - but I didn’t love it. Even when you go in blind and just enjoy the ride, the movie has its fair share of flaws. A lot of the poor dialogue can be swept under the rug of a crazy and slasher-esque plotline, that both pays homage and satires the genre. That being said, some of the dialogue is just really clunky and makes several of the characters, like the husband and police detectives for example, feel more like caricatures of real people than, well, real people. The ending wasn’t bad by any stretch but way too many doors were left open and the final twenty minutes felt a bit rushed and disjointed.

With all that in mind, ‘Malignant’ left an intense impression on me. Not in the way that ‘Hereditary’ or ‘The Lighthouse’ creeped me out long after the credits rolled, but in an almost childlike fascination. The film is visually captivating in a grotesquely beautiful way - the dream sequences are stunning and although the CGI could have been a lot better, the monster design and chase sequences are hard to look away from. Several moments seemed like an ode to an old Sam Raimi flick like ‘Evil Dead’ or ‘Darkman’. It was mainly the sheer absurdity of the plot and subsequent plot-twist, that left such a visceral impression on me.

Annabelle Wallis gives a great performance that helps make her character even more sympathetic. Although the rest of the cast don’t rise above the dodgy writing, it somehow only adds to the pulpy, Scooby-Doo vibe enveloping the film. This is James Wan’s film. The immersive tracking shots and well-made scares are reminiscent of past projects such as ‘The Conjuring’ but the ridiculously violent and hair-raising plot twists are pure ‘Saw’. Despite these elements being present, there’s not a single unoriginal part in ‘Malignant’. The film feels so alive, fresh and just burning with passion. Wan’s clearly having fun and it gives an otherwise dark and distressing movie, a light undertone that makes it, for me, endlessly rewatchable.

Worth Watching?

Definitely. For me it was a highlight of 2021, with a unique (albeit tremendously silly) plot and tons of great scares, set pieces and memorable imagery. But be warned - for every person who loves this film there’s someone who despises it. It’s most definitely not for everyone. That being said, I think if people switch off their brains for the two hours and just enjoy the trippy ride, there’s something enjoyable to be found here for everyone.

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