HOLLYWOOD—You know how you hear about a movie and it just looks like it will be good, but after seeing that film you discover you’ve been hoodwinked? That is how I feel about the new horror film “Malignant” from modern horror genius James Wan. This is the man who helped craft the ingenious “Saw” in 2004. He then delivered the terror of the haunted house flick with 2013’s “The Conjuring” and its epic follow-up “The Conjuring 2” in 2016.
His latest flick “Malignant” was expected to introduce audiences to a new realm of horror, but I’m not sure what Wan and the writers were thinking with this flick. Why? It seems to go from intriguing horror, to a mystery to an action thriller that just baffled my mind completely. It is indeed difficult to talk about “Malignant” without spoiling the surprise (if you call it that) for the audience. Let me just say this, the opening very genius as we hear about this mysterious patient, Gabriel who has the ability to control electricity and speaks in an unnerving tone. It sets the stage for what could have been an epic horror flick. You have a ton of mystery and curiosity that is teased to the audience.
That opening transitions to the audience meeting Madison (Annabeth Wallis), a woman who is pregnant and in an abusive relationship with her husband. He slams her against the wall causing an injury to her head. She locks herself away for safety and then things take a turn for the worst. “Malignant” presents the notion this movie revolves around a mysterious ghost figure and I loved that angle until I didn’t because all is not as it seems people.
As the story picks up the pacing, you are eager as a viewer to learn the big mystery at hand, and once it comes to light, it had me scratching my head because I wanted a much bigger payoff. I found myself questioning if the writers seriously thought this was a legit story that the audience would buy that was being sold. “Malignant” is overly violent for reasons I cannot fathom. Yes, I expected it with “Saw” because of the story with that flick, this movie, I expected violence, but not to this degree. Some of the deaths are just downright brutal and vicious in nature.
This notion that horror has to be over the top at all times is one of the reasons that horror has been beaten to the ground. “Malignant” has all the troupes in play to be a fascinating horror flick, but the writers and the director does not follow that path. I mean directing rise, there are a few scares, but not jump out your seat as audiences have come to expect from Wan. However, visually the movie is absolutely stunning, especially as the movie plays with this notion of dreams and rather they are real or fake and that blend into reality seamlessly. As a spectator you don’t know if what you’re watching is happening in real time or rather it’s all in the character’s mindset.
With “Malignant” I expected this movie to be something that it wasn’t and when the big reveal of what was actually taking place came to light, it baffled me. The movie has an interesting concept, but not everything aligns to make you say, “Wow that was a great movie.” If anything you shrug your shoulders and move on with your life, that’s not a good sign people.