James Wan returns to horror with an uneven outing that suffers from taking itself to seriously, but is rescued by a truly bonkers third act.
A woman (Annabelle Wallis) grows increasingly tortured by visions of violent murders from an unknown culprit with the key to stopping them potentially rooted in her past. Malignant may be the most action-packed horror film in recent memory, rarely taking its foot off of the pedal. As exciting as this is, the film does suffer a bit from a lack of story development as a result, instead making some logical leaps that don’t always add up, even in the plot’s established structure. Annabelle Wallis does a fine job in the lead roll, but the entire cast suffers from undercooked characters and the unnecessary weight of misplaced seriousness carried from beginning to end, never leaning in to the utter ridiculousness and leading to many an eye-roll, even laughs (at the film’s expense). Wallis’ wig is also one of the worst I have seen, but I digress.
I cannot say that I was ever truly scared throughout Malignant, save for one or two jumps, but the intrigue never wanes. Mesmerizing, though, is the cinematography here that stands out with unique shots from above of Wallis’ character running from room to room and other views from unexpected perspectives that add something fresh. The third act is truly insane, perhaps the most violent, bloody, gruesome set of scenes I can recall, leading viewers on a wild ride. Malignant, which I keep referring to as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone does horror, certainly isn’t Wan’s best, but it is entertaining enough for fans of the genre to have a decent time.
Malignant is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max.
Photo from CBR