Concession Confession: While I might not be the biggest James Wan fan on the internet, Malignant is simply awesome. A blend of horror that feels bizarre but satisfying from start to finish.
Logline: Madison Lake suffers visions of a murderous creature going on a rampage. After further exploration into her forgotten past it appears this creature psychic connection is no mere coincidence.
Malignant is a movie that after hearing so many people rave about it, I had to check it out myself. This movie is gonna be divisive but I’m in the camp that says it’s a thrilling and fun watch. I enjoyed the heck out of this but it is coming from a place in which I enjoyed Sleepaway Camp. It’s not exactly completely through irony but it speaks deeply to the dumbness in my soul. The part of me that wants to see the creature of this movie in a Mortal Kombat movie and solving just bat-shit crazy plots that hold up like a wet napkin if you try to use psuedo-science to try and explain and justify what is happening.
I won’t spoil anything, but I highly recommend it for those that can stomach some of the gorier moments. The best way I would kind of describe what I got out of it; I felt like this movie was horror movie blender. It feels like every horror movie rolled up into one and that’s just pretty epic. That’s sort of the minor issue maybe is that this film serves no master it is unapologetically trying to be what it is and it won’t cater to audiences who want to be spoon-fed what they want. Sometimes it is a spooky house ghost story like The Conjuring or Insidious, then it’s a spooky monster of the week Bagul movie, it’s a pulpy slasher, and oh my good it is even kind of like The Invisible Man where it really wants to be an action movie towards the end.
Is A Little Bit of Everything Good?
In a way there’s just so much infusion that it really shows horror for what the complete genre has amassed into and shows the best and worst elements across multiple eras. It captures a lot of the dark atmosphere and tension especially from 80s-90s horror like The Exorcist and Poltergeist. So much of this movie I just wanted to edit in film grain just so it fully captured the feel I felt it was often going for. But it also demonstrates how a lot of the classics are a little too reliant on wacky practical effects, and twist narratives that are suppose to gotcha the viewer. A lot of the premises are kind of goofy and modern audience’s are smarter today by use of the internet. I’m not saying that my generation is necessarily smarter than the previous one, but today everyone can google and find out just how improbably and nonsensical a lot of horror used to be. Whether it be not exactly how mental illness works, or using weird science yada-yada to explain what happens in your movie doesn’t cut it as much as it used to.
In terms of modern influence it definitely feels able through CG that horror is now able to pull off all the stops. What we are able to do with movies now a day are incredible and it can take a concept no matter how absurd and bring it too life. James Wan is guilty of some of horrors most unwelcomed aspects. Wan did a couple I would call them reverse jump scares where people or objects appear on screen and than disappear in an instant. Which that is just cheesy and lazy at this point. Malignant is also a sinner in some aspects of really heavy-handed exposition and scenes that only exist to check off a story beat.
There’s literally a scene at the end of the movie where it takes weird details from the beginning of the movie and explains to you why they put those details in like you’re a Neanderthal who would never be capable of connecting the dots on your own. None of these complaints taint how epic the movie is. I wish that there was some more mystery to it, the movie through title and opening sequence basically shouts were the film is going and doesn’t make it much of a riddle. It’s a movie that I was never surprised by what ended up happening, but even when new developments or turns occur you most likely end up just going “yeah, okay”.
Malignant is a fantastic time, and if you are looking for something spooky this could be it. I genuinely haven’t enjoyed a horror movie quite like this in a long time. One IMDb review compared it to a Troma movie and that’s kind of where this movie is. I kind of agree with a lot of the negative reviews and can certainly see what’s not to like. However, this film achieved everything it set out to do and if you’re willing to sit down and watch something that certainly is going to be a conversation later this is a nice one to do so.
Thanks for reading everyone, stay spooky.