Malignant Is F**king Great!

Dept. of Direct-To-Video Dreams


Yes. Yes. Yes. So much yes. Malignant is completely bonkers and might just be some of the most fun I’ve had at the movies in a long time. This is a B-movie with blockbuster sensibilities. The kind of schlock, lifted directly from our direct-to-video dreams and brought vividly to life by James Wan’s deliberate direction and batshit crazy ideas. This isn’t “so bad it’s good.” It actually is. And don’t you let anyone tell you otherwise.

It is impossible to justify this movie’s greatness without getting into spoiler territory, so you’re just going to have to trust me when I say stick with it until the very end. Because you only think you know where this is going. And while you may be able to figure out the general direction of where it’s heading, the specifics are so stupefying that they will leave you agape.

I wouldn’t describe Malignant as a scarefest. Yes, it has its fair share of jump scares and flickering lights, but that is really more of a fake out. This is a movie that is constructed to lull you into false sense of familiarity, before completely upending your expectations.

This movie goes for broke, but it does so with such incredible attention to detail that every single reveal is earned. Irrespective of how ridiculous they may be. In fact, it is only in hindsight, after everything is done and dusted, once you’re done WTF-ing, that you begin to notice just how tightly plotted this is. Every line belongs. Every contrived revelation has a purpose.

In Beautiful Bad Taste


At first, Malignant, with its uncomplicated setup, purposefully hokey dialogue, and inconsistent pacing, seems like an out and out homage to the dusty VHS movies that I’m sure line the walls of James Wan’s mansion. The acting is a little over the top. The music is overbearing. And the genre tropes keep coming at you a mile a minute. An adoptee with no memory of her past. An abusive husband. A creaky old manor with a seemingly endless number of rooms and staircases. Even a spooky sanitarium precariously perched on the edge of a cliff.

We’ve also seen Madison’s story before. Or at least bits and pieces of it in a variety of different horror movies. She’s a survivor of multiple miscarriages. She has a complex psychiatric history. And she may or may not have repressed memories involving a creepy childhood companion.

One day, after she and her husband are viciously attacked in their home, Madison starts experiencing visions in which she can see every gory detail of their attacker’s next victims.

Magnificent in Its Madness


This movie has everything. It is a psychological thriller, a body horror flick, a potboiler, an 80s buddy cop comedy, and an action blockbuster all rolled into one. But all of this genre gimmickry serves a purpose, and Wan deftly layers them one on top of the other, in order to set the tone for a truly magnificent third act reveal.

The last 20 minutes of this movie are absolutely relentless in its violence, and gore, and brilliant insanity. It is a middle finger to how things are done and an open embrace of the sheer absurdity of the genre. It will make you laugh out loud. It’ll make you cringe. It’ll have you choking back your dinner in disgust. I know I was sitting at the edge of my seat and screaming “what the actual fuck!”

In its 111 minutes, Malignant is the perfect showcase of James Wan’s mastery of the craft. From the way he shoots a simple stabbing, to how he frames an aerial walkthrough of Madison’s home, to that gloriously gruesome showdown at the end, he possesses a command and control over the form that is second to none.

This doesn’t feel like a studio film. (God knows it’s got far too much ingenuity to be a Blumhouse joint.) This is James Wan breaking away from the cookie cutter horror fare that he is partly responsible for proliferating, and setting out to rediscover all of the genre’s most distasteful conventions.

I’m here for it. And you should be too.

Malignant is now showing in Malaysian cinemas.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

Kota Factory
Previous Story

The Feisty Indian Aunty Watches... Kota Factory

Next Story

Foundation: A Gorgeous Successor to Game Of Thrones

Latest from Movie Reviews