Directed by James Wan.
Starring Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jacqueline McKenzie.
A woman experiences visions of grisly murders, and discovers these violent events are happening in real life.
When horror auteur James Wan proclaimed that he wanted to give the audience something radically different with Malignant, he really wasn’t mincing his words. But not even a hard-core fan of Wan’s works could have anticipated such an extreme departure like this would’ve existed up this man’s sleeves, period.
The story kicks off in 1993 where we are introduced to Dr. Florence Weaver (Jaqueline McKenzie) and the staff of her psychiatric hospital, as they attempt to restrain Gabriel, a hyper-aggressive patient with a penchant for brutal violence. Following an unnerving title-sequence à la David Fincher’s Se7en, the narrative picks up twenty-seven years later where we meet Madison Lake (Annabelle Wallis), an unfortunate woman in a toxic relationship with her abusive husband. During one of their routine domestic scuffles Madison’s head gets slammed against a wall, and that’s the tipping point of the madness to follow. Grisly murders, a mysterious boogeyman and an unconfronted past, all intertwine culminating in an adrenaline fueling finale, that will leave you dazed and very confused.
Let me tell you right off the bat, if you aren’t a fan of camp, this will not be a pleasant viewing experience, because Malignant is a film that gleefully and purposefully embraces camp. It is intentionally silly, outrageously over-the-top and hilariously self-aware from start to finish. The film owes much to the Giallo masters of yore, for its distinctive aesthetic, and audiences unfamiliar with the visual flair of Bava and Argento’s horror efforts, will be in for quite a surprise. Helping Wan achieve that unique look is DOP Dan Burgess, whose kinetic camera work and nightmarish shot compositions play an instrumental role in making this an utterly immersive viewing experience.
Composer Joseph Bishara is on overdrive here, delivering a ferociously aggressive horror score that further augments the stark-raving-madness unfurling onscreen. Annabelle Wallis gives an appropriately solid turn as the tormented Madison, matching the film’s silliness with an emotionally volatile performance. George Young and Michole Briana White are simply having a ball, as the detective duo assigned to crack this impossibly bizarre murder mystery. As per usual James Wan continues to impresses as one of modern cinema’s greatest horror directors. This is a guy who has such an intimate understanding of the genre, that only he could have pulled off something as boldly ambitious and bat-shit-crazy as Malignant with oodles of pizzazz.
There is a chance that you will be obfuscated with what’s going on, but if you are willing to trust James Wan’s daring vision and take a leap of faith, Malignant will certainly slay you with its idiosyncratic brilliance.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★
Hasitha Fernando is a part-time medical practitioner and full-time cinephile. Follow him on Twitter via @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.