MALIGNANT Review; "A Chilling Tale That Proves To Be The Creepiest, Craziest Horror Movie Of 2021"
Malignant arrives in theaters and on HBO Max today, and while James Wan brings a lot of crazy ideas to the table, only some stick the landing. Find our verdict on the weirdly unique horror tale here...
Before heading down the action blockbuster route with Furious 7 and Aquaman, James Wan was best known for his work in horror. As the helmer of Saw (the original rather than those underwhelming sequels), Insidious, and The Conjuring, it's no great surprise that there's been quite a bit of excitement surrounding his return to the genre with Malignant. However, it's no exaggeration to say this movie is not only unlike any of those earlier films, but probably a million miles from whatever you're expecting.
In terms of plot details, the less you know, the better - though we can tell you that the story picks up with a woman named Madison (Annabelle Wallis) who, after a traumatic event in her personal life, finds herself experiencing brutal visions of murders she soon learns are really happening. From there, we watch the mystery unfold, and some shocking truths are revealed about Madison's past. Whatever you think is happening, trust us when we say that you won't see the reality of the situation coming. To get to that point, you'll have to put up with a few early stumbles, particularly with an overly cheesy opening, quite a lot of familiar horror tropes, and scares that certainly won't leave you with any trouble sleeping. However, it's hard not to wonder if that was deliberate on Wan's part, as if he was doing as much as possible to make sure the viewer doesn't really know what the hell they're watching. That uncertainty definitely helps make those eventual reveals all the more shocking, but it also, unfortunately, creates a somewhat uneven experience, and your mileage may vary when it comes to whether the eventual good is able to make up for a fair bit of bad.
Still, if you're looking for a delightfully weird experience, rest assured that Malignant delivers in spades. Wan throws a lot into this movie, and delivers a satisfying thriller in terms of how the mystery unfolds along with a final act that definitely doesn't disappoint even after upping the action (that's where a lot of horror movies tend to veer off the rails). In fact, it's at this point in the proceedings Wan shows just how talented a filmmaker he is, with some batsh*t crazy visuals we haven't seen in any other release this year. Joseph Bishara's score is a welcome addition to the on-screen craziness, while cinematographer Michael Burgess ensures the horror never gets lost in the darkness, enhancing Wan's unique ideas and ensuring that even if you're not terrified, you'll be perched on the edge of your seat in nervous anticipation of whatever comes next.
Malignant's cast is fine, though outside of Wallis there are no real standout performances to rave about. She effectively manages to portray the fear Madison feels as events continue to spiral out of control, but there's not a whole lot to sink her teeth into beyond that, even with a tacked-on theme about family being about more than blood. Maddie Hasson is good, as are Susanna Thompson, Jake Abel, George Young, and Mckenna Grace in supporting roles.
Ultimately, if you're happy to embrace the sillier elements of what unfolds here and don't take it too seriously, you'll have a scary good time, and gore fans are sure to love the body-horror side of things, not to mention the brutal ways the movie's canon fodder is dispatched. As for the lead antagonist, we're not going to describe them as an iconic addition to this genre, but they're entirely effective and downright terrifying at times. Seriously, this movie is going to mess with your mind, and in that respect, will stick with you after the credits roll.
Make it through some of Malignant's early pitfalls, and you'll be rewarded with a chilling tale that proves to be the creepiest, craziest horror movie of 2021.