Despite some campy acting and an insane plot, “Malignant” is a fun, terrifying addition to James Wan’s collection of messed-up horrors.
The story follows Maddy (Annabelle Wallis), who starts the film pregnant and in an abusive relationship. After getting into a fight, she gets visited by a mysterious figure who kills her husband and leaves her unconscious, causing her to lose the baby. The two detectives on the case, Kekoa Shaw (George Young) and Regina Moss (Michole Briana White), brush it off as a home invasion but suspect that Maddy might’ve gotten fed up with the abuse and killed her husband.
Maddy recovers and moves back into the house to try and live on her own. As she’s living alone, she starts seeing the same figure that attacked her around her house and becomes increasingly paranoid. The first night, as she’s doing laundry, she witnesses this figure brutally murder a doctor through what she believes to be a vision. Distraught, she goes to the police, who have a hard time believing her. However, they begin to warm up to the idea after she bears witness to another murder and tells the detectives exactly where it happened.
After this incident, they begin to work closely with Maddy, uncovering a lot of her cloudy past and reminding her of an old “imaginary” friend named Gabriel. Maddy and her sister, Sydney (Maddie Hasson), must uncover what happened in her past to rid herself of the guilt that has landed upon her and solve the murders that are still going on.
Throughout the movie the utilization of jump scares was constant and at times exhausting. The way that the “monster” of the film was constructed was well done, and it is seamlessly blended into the story to create a simplistic yet sinister ambiance.
James Wan is amazing at creating tension within a scene, and the subtle direction allowed for bone-chilling suspense and bloodcurdling thrill.
The concept of the telepathic link between the killer and the protagonist was an interesting take on a classic horror adage, and I loved how the film tied it in with a semi-predictable twist. The story itself was outlandish, but that’s to be expected from Wan (see “Saw,” “The Conjuring,” “Annabelle,” “Insidious,” etc.). I will say this is a bit of a step away from his normal work, but was still very much a Wan film with its maniacal plot and crazy twists. There were a few times where the story got a bit jumbled and overly conceptual, pulling me out of the story, but in the end it tied together and worked in the best way that it could.
One big problem I saw with the movie was the acting, which, at times, seemed a bit campy and ham-fisted. However, with a horror film like this, it kind of works. The movie’s not trying to be groundbreaking in any way — it’s self-aware in its ludicrous concept. It’s a ridiculous plot and I think ridiculous acting fits that.
Overall, if you’re looking for a scary movie with not a lot of depth this Halloween season, I’d recommend checking out “Malignant.”