James Wan returns to give us a seriously messed up horror, featuring a mysterious cloaked figure and apparent parkour expert.
I don’t know where I stand with horrors sometimes, especially the ones that take themselves too seriously and try to outsmart you, however, one way to get my attention is to begin the film with death, blood, guts, and bad acting, Malignant is all of these and more. You know what you’re getting straight away, it’s an inkling of things to come, bring on the madness I say.
This film isn’t scary by any means, there weren’t even any jump scares (thank God), but what it does rely on is its extreme bloody violence, taking director James Wan back to his Saw roots. It kind of felt like a cheap B movie horror; a bit cheesy, very lame at times, overly dramatic, and a whole host of questionable acting – all the good stuff of course.
Malignant is a seriously messed up film (a clue is the fact its name is a common pairing with the word tumour), but I kind of liked it because it’s so ridiculous and outrageous – dare to be different and all that. There were some smart stylistic traits that I really enjoyed, the cinematography by Michael Burgess was unusual; the birds eye view in the house, the quick pans and cuts, a plethora of camera angles to create an intense feeling of anxiety, the symmetry along with the centric focal points were pretty, very enjoyable from a style point of view. The colour scheme was also a cool style aesthetic; the neon blues and reds, the flashing lights at night and the duller colours for the daytime, all these factors play a huge role in making the film exciting and full of character. You’ve got to hand it to Wan and the crew, they made something very… creative let’s say.
Malignant begins at a psychiatric hospital where a young girl is being treated, things take a turn for the worse when this girl ends up slaughtering everyone in the facility (as you do) before being subdued. Fast forward twenty-seven years, and the protagonist, Madison (Annabelle Wallis), who is also pregnant, comes home from work to be greeted by her abusive boyfriend, where he gives her an “accidental” head smash. Later that night, Madison see’s a vision of her boyfriend being brutally murdered by a mysterious figure, realizing the figure is still in the house, it attacks Madison as well, leaving her unconscious and waking up in hospital.
Madison begins to be haunted by constant visions of strangers being murdered by this cloaked assassin, unsure of what they mean and who they are, she enlists the help of her younger sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson) and local detective Kekoa Shaw (George Young) and his cynical partner Det. Regina Moss (Michole Briana White), they attempt to deduce who the hooded man is and where he is heading next, as he taunts them with creepy phone calls and messages.
Madison believes that the figure is someone from her unknown past called Gabriel, she must try and wake her dormant memories of Gabriel, who by now has turned into some sort of super solider, ninja parkour expert with a giant golden dagger for a weapon – it is a unique villain, even for a horror film. With the crew of would-be heroes hot on the tail of Gabriel, he steps up his murderous game, leading them on a wild goose chase, as Madison starts to get closer to finally realizing who he is. Madison will almost certainly be shocked by his identity, the two of them being closer than she ever thought was possible, will it send her into madness, or will she topple Gabriel and end his bloody game?
I really liked the audacity and weirdness of the whole thing; it was very gory and didn’t leave anything to the imagination – it is what it is. What was strange was that it felt like a parody almost, due to how over the top it became, was Wan and his crew joking with this film, or were they so serious that it makes you laugh anyway? Either way, there is not a dull moment in this entire film, which is something to be admired.
Although they are completely different, I felt obliged to compare it to the Saw series, the sharp, very loud music, and the mysterious phone calls forced me to think this way. I am not the biggest horror fan as you can probably tell, but what I look for is that it is something different and outrageous which will make it memorable, and this certainly ticks those boxes. This is not a great film by any means, there is a hell of a lot wrong with it, but that uncouth edge is what makes it proud of what it is.