James Wan’s newest horror feature is straight up love letter to the 1980s Fulci and Argento filmography. Unlike The Conjuring and Insidious, Malignant is in your face, bloody, and as intense as it is scary. This might be a little oft putting for fans expecting a supernatural haunting horror film. This has supernatural elements in it but it dips its toe into the sci-fi genre pretty heavily. In fact when the film starts it doesn’t even feel like a James Wan film but rather a monstrous b-movie like “Xtro.”
In that aspect, James Wan hits this out of the park. The film is unnerving, surreal, and at time hard to watch but you can’t turn away from it.
The film stars Annabelle Wallis as a woman who begins to have visions of people getting murdered, only to realize the events are happening in real life. Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, and Jacqueline McKenzie also star.
James Wan delves into some pretty wonky yet satisfying sci-fi horror here. The trailers really sold this film as a supernatural spectacle or perhaps even a split personality horror thriller. But where Wan decides to go with the film not only subverts expectations, it is borderline ludacris. However, because it is meant to be like Basket Case, It Lives, or even The Dark Half I kind of give the more outlandish elements a pass here.
The way that Gabriel is revealed to be like an affliction as opposed to a possession is that much of a big twist but is done pretty well nonetheless. Gabriel is revealed to be something a cancerous looking Malignant growth on the back of Madison’s head. This looked like something straight out of an 80s horror flick but I was there for it. I just wish the film would have explained how Gabriel had psychokinesis like abilities. I can understand the enhanced strength and agility, after all, Gabriel is more of a conjoined twin than a parasite per se. It was also very interesting how Gabriel rejuvenated himself from the miscarriages that Madison endured. Just went to show how wicked Gabriel truly was.
I also really loved the look of the Gabriel character. Hiding Madison’s face and contorting her body to walk, attack, and move backwards was unnerving but it also pretty damn cool. Gabriel brutal assault on the police station is one of the best action scenes I have seen this year.
The gore in this film is pretty extreme here as well. Wan really pushes the limits of the R Rating by depicting horrific and brutal scenes the like that would make Fulci proud.
Composer Joseph Bishara once again score a horrifying new score for one of Wan’s films. While his Conjuring score set a nightmarish tone and Insidious created haunting screeching violins, Bishara’s Malignant score feels more Hitchcock-Psycho inspired. One of the things Bishara implemented here was an eerie take on the Pixies “Where is my Mind” which is heard throughout the film.
In closing, Wan doesn’t deliver the horror film fans were expecting and maybe wanted. Instead it’s heavily inspired by 80s horror films and it shows in the way each scene is shot, lit, and scored. I personally loved it and can’t wait to see it again. HipsterZOMBIEJoint Experience highly recommends checking out Malignant.
Malignant will have you wanting to walk backwards into the theater for a second viewing!