Directed by James Wan
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Annabelle Wallis as a woman who begins to have visions of people being murdered, only to realize the events are happening in real life.
I’d been desperate to see this movie after all the hype last year so was really happy when it popped up on one of my services over the weekend. I enjoyed it. Sadly, it wasn’t nearly as bonkers as I was hoping & expecting from all the talk about it. Have people just not seen any other horror films before this one? The story ended up being about exactly what I thought it was going to be about. But, hey – it’s what I was hoping it would be about since I have a weird fascination with that concept.
It’s very hard to talk about this movie while staying spoiler-free! But I’ll do my best to not spoil it for those who have not yet seen this. I wouldn’t call myself a big fan of James Wan’s work but, wow, it looks like I’ve seen most everything he’s written or directed so I must like his stuff okay. I thought The Conjuring was pretty good & I have to remind myself that I really liked the first Saw film before it turned into the torture porn crap I despise in the sequels. Stuff like those Insidious, Annabelle & The Nun movies, though, are a bit meh. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about Malignant & where I’d rank it compared to his other work. I guess I’d put it above those “meh” ones I mentioned. It was more entertaining & memorable than those & I appreciated its craziness.
From what I’d heard about this being “Giallo-inspired”, I was expecting much more than what we got of that. Having rewatched Suspiria (1977) recently, I realized just how much I love the style of that. I’m a sucker for amazing visuals & I love that about the Argento films. Maybe a few shots in Malignant pay tribute to that style but I wouldn’t compare the film to the small amount of Italian horror that I’ve seen. So I was disappointed to not be getting a full-on ’70s-style horror with Malignant but I appreciated it being more stylish than Wan’s other films.
I also think, with this story’s crazy concept, they didn’t get the tone quite right. The movie took itself a bit too seriously. Although, I’m sure that worked for many people and I can’t really think what they could’ve done better? They took a concept suited for cheesy body horror in the style of Re-Animator, etc, and… Hell, I don’t know. Maybe this movie did kind of work in the style they used. I’ll say this again: I’m old. I’ve seen many movies. I sometimes have to remind myself that current, younger audiences (especially mainstream audiences – movie bloggers are different) haven’t necessarily seen this type of horror story before so I guess I can see why they’d be shocked by the film’s reveal & why so many hardcore horror fans liked this movie. Being a fan of cheesy old body horror, especially Cronenberg’s older films, I guess I have come to expect a different sort of style for this type of horror. I’d say I like my horror to either be very serious, creepy & atmospheric or else I like them to be completely outrageous & silly (I love horror comedies). Malignant is somewhere in the middle of those. I think it maybe could’ve just used some more dark humor but, while writing this paragraph, I’ve talked myself into liking that this isn’t a cheesy old-school body horror. That’s not what a mainstream modern audience are going to go for, either.
Ugh. This is why I mostly stick to my monthly roundup posts with brief reviews in recent years. I ramble on too damn much when I do a review on its own! I’ve blathered on for ages & I’m still not sure how I feel about Malignant. I wanted to love it as it looked SO like my type of thing & I thought it had a fantastic poster. I love a good movie poster! I guess it didn’t quite live up to my really high expectations & I’m trying to convince myself that I liked it by blathering on about it for ages. You know what? I did still like it.
Here’s what I liked:
1. This type of story is right up my alley (hmm – that sounds dirty). I was happy it was what I expected but it also would’ve been nice to be surprised.
2. The characters were quite good for a horror film! The sister & that one detective dude were especially likeable. And I’d say I kind of gave a shit about poor Annabelle Wallis’s main character too. It’s always more enjoyable to me to not have the hateful characters we get in too many horror films.
3. How do I say this & stay spoiler-free?!?! Hmm. I really liked the backwards thing. This story is NOT original but it found a way to differentiate itself a bit from other movies & TV shows that had this same story. And the backwards thing was pretty cool & a lot of fun. This movie got much better after the reveal. I think it needed to be batshit crazy much earlier in the film.
Okay – I’ve talked myself into liking this one. Or at least appreciating it more. I didn’t love it like I’d been hoping but it was certainly entertaining. It could’ve been better but at least it’s more memorable than Wan’s Insidious/Annabelle/Nun things. Let’s hope they don’t try to milk it by making a shitty sequel as this is good as a stand-alone film.
My Rating: 7/10