With his new 2021 film “Malignant”, director James Wan returns to creating horror movies with a fresh story idea that is engaging but also crosses into other genres.
“Malignant” was released in theaters and on the streaming service HBO Max Sept. 10, with a cast that includes Maddie Hasson, George Young, and Ray Chase as the voice of the antagonist Gabriel. The film visually appears as a big budget Hollywood horror film, but at many times has the feeling of a “B level” horror movie that you can find scrolling through the horror” section on Netflix.
“Malignant” tells the story of a woman named Madison Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis) who begins experiencing visions of people being murdered and realizes she is seeing them in real time. The murders are being committed by what seems to be a supernatural figure named Gabriel and Madison soon learns they are somehow linked.
The film opens with the feeling of a classic horror movie by setting up a mysterious villain, jump scares, fast shifts in sound to amplify something scary, and more. When we are first introduced to Gabriel, who (or what) he is, is shrouded by mystery.
We see that he has some source of power to control electricity with him as he constantly causes lights to flicker and lightbulbs to explode. We also see that he is only able to communicate through electronic speakers; throughout the film, we only hear Gabriel speak through nearby radios or PA speakers.
The tone of the film shifts by the film’s midpoint and goes from feeling like a horror movie to more of a supernatural thriller or even an action movie. The murders are first depicted in a suspenseful and terrifying way, but as the film goes on they become more violent and gory. We see a fight scene late in the movie that is more reminiscent of a John Woo action film and changes the verisimilitude of the film.
What really stands out is the use of visual effects through the film. As Madison is seeing a murder that Gabriel is committing, we see the room she is standing in slowly melt and fade away into the room where the murder is happening. This helps the viewer really see and understand what Madison is seeing unfold in front of her and the horror she is feeling.
The biggest takeaway is the script and line delivery of the film. Throughout the film, there are lines that are delivered in a way that seem satirical and said more in jest that do not match the serious tone of the film. This is where that “B movie” feel comes in. It could be intentional as a callback to campy horror movies of the past, but can also be distracting from the serious tone and nature of the film.
“Malignant” features interesting suspense and a unique story that appeals to many fans of horror films and is backed by great visual effects and action sequences. The film takes some twists and turns that deviate it from the typical horror genre, but it has many qualities that make it an enjoyable watch.
- ENTER-MALIGNANT-MOVIE-REVIEW-MCT: Tribune News Service | Used With Permission