Movie Review: Malignant (2021)

From Australian horror maestro James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insiduous, among many others) is the 2021 film, Malignant. Madison Lake (Annabelle Wallis) is pregnant with her douchebag husband Derek (Jake Abel, Supernatural‘s Adam), but soon begins to experience murders as if she was looking through the eyes of the killer. As a pair of detectives, Kekoa Shaw (George Young) and Regina Moss (Michole Briana White) begin to track down the murderer, Madison and her sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson) must try to figure out what is going on, with a deep dive into their family past.

+ there is one scene that I think will be the scene people most remember from the film. I’d compare it favourably to the scene in Signs where Joaquin Phoenix stares at the TV watching the tape of the birthday party. You know the one, because it’s the only memorable part of that movie, and the same is probably going to prove true here
+ there was one small sequence filmed entirely from above, as if Madison was running through a roofless house and I though it was pretty cool. Shame it only happened once, as it could have been a good ‘signature shot’ for the film overall
+ in terms of violence at least, when the film wanted to be shocking it certainly was. Compound fractures seem to be the easiest thing to do to human bones, but as mentioned below, when I saw one character put their fist through the abdomen of another I literally laughed out loud

malignant_2
Madison (Annabelle Wallis) and her sister, Sydney (Maddie Hasson)

– I don’t know if I can say any of the acting was particularly great (or intentionally hammy, which the case may be). Wallis reunites with Conjuring director James Wan, but I have no reason to believe her character could not have been any other actress. None of the actors left a mark the way Tobin Bell did in Saw, nor even Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring series
– as you’ll see in my opening spiel, I don’t even know what genre this movie was going for. From jump scares to horrendous violence, it ran the gamut from bad horror to unintentional black comedy, all the way to over-the-top superhero action movie. I did not care for this tonal whiplash at all, and if you told me this was set in the same universe as Split or Brightburn I’d believe you
– there were a few points where characters were being given far too much of a focus when I wasn’t sure we had ever seen them before, most coming in the final third after the reveal. Similarly, there is a lot of wonky time issues, like a character driving up to a building in the day light, but entering the building in the pitch black of night, or a character going from the underground tunnels immediately back to meet with another. It was either intentionally confusing as part of whatever genre it was, or just poor editing
– straight up, the plot/twist/reveal/whatever is just dumb and may even make or break the movie for you. Maybe you’re into that, but when I see crappy plot twists, I don’t want the movie to present them as if they are some ground breaking cinematic moment

> yes, that sinister voice was Ray Chase, aka Etrigan The Demon from the Justice League Dark animated duology

Should you see this film: One fancy camera angle and the memorable twist revelation are not enough to recommend this movie. The acting is bland, the plot is ridiculous and not even unique, and the scares are as rote as you can get. Though the sequels have lost me, I’d have expected something more from the mind behind Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring.

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