MALIGNANT is the new horror movie by James Wan who is definitely one of the horror masters of our time. It’s been long expected and might be the beginning of a new horror movie franchise. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown. Read our full Malignant movie review here!
MALIGNANT is the new horror movie by James Wan and here at Heaven of Horror, we have long been huge fans of him. He is undoubtedly one of the biggest horror movie directors and behind the biggest horror movie franchises of this new millennium.
That’s why this new movie – which isn’t part of any ongoing franchise – has been much anticipated. And yes, it just might be the beginning of a new franchise. Just not one I’m rooting for. I am very sorry (really, I am) to say that I was disappointed by this latest James Wan movie. Actually, it was a letdown lifted only by a few actors.
Continue reading our Malignant movie review below and find it on HBO Max or in movie theaters near you.
A stylistic mess
I know many of the major horror websites have applauded Malignant like it’s the second coming of some sort. Interestingly, we’ve seen this happen quite a few times when they’re invited to advanced screenings. It’s almost as if they feel it comes with the obligation to give a good review. A misunderstood and misguided approach to giving honest reviews.
Here at Heaven of Horror we are usually both positive and honest (perhaps to a fault). That’s why we’re getting emails (and comments on social media) thanking us for telling it like it is. Even when every other major horror website is praising something. Another recent example is season 2 of Into the Night on Netflix, which is just not good despite reviews saying so!
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In any case, calling Malignant a throwback to 1990’s horror or Giallo films is grossly overselling what is essentially a stylistic mess. Sure, the stand-alone opening scene (a James Wan trademark) has a 90’s vibe because it’s set in 1993. However, it feels more like a TV movie to me and I don’t see why that would be necessary.
Also, the villain might have a Giallo-feel but it also has a Ringu-vibe if you want to talk references. Finally, it just feels like a strange James Wan remix to me. There are elements reminiscent of Saw and also a hint of Insidious or a score that feels like something from The Conjuring universe. However, even the score changes style. A lot!
A scene towards the end might even be described as an homage to the Saw final scene. However, even this feels weak and forced.
Watch it for Annabelle Wallis
What does work for Malignant is having Annabelle Wallis in the lead role. She was also great in Annabelle (2014) and is just always good as a rule. Even when the movies, she’s in, aren’t always that great. Also, Maddie Hasson (We Summon the Darkness) is a positive element as her sister. You should definitely watch the movie for these two actors.
Also, you can look forward to seeing quite a few actors you’ll know from other James Wan movies. In that sense, he and Mike Flanagan have a lot in common; Using the same actors again and again.
For Malignant, you’ll see Madison Wolfe (the primary character in The Conjuring 2), Mckenna Grace (Judy Warren in Annabelle Comes Home), and Patricia Velasquez (The Curse of La Llorona). Even Andy Bean (adult Stanley in It which is not a James Wan movie) is there in a very small role.
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Just so you know, all of the above-mentioned “James Wan”-actors are generally in very small roles. Some are virtually cameos while others might have more than one scene.
Spoilers for James Wan movie Malignant
James Wan has been very vocal in encouraging people to not spoil the movie. In other words, please don’t talk about plot twists or ending explained for Malignant to avoid spoilers. And I agree. You should definitely watch this movie without having read or heard spoilers beforehand.
Still, if you’re a movie buff like me then you will undoubtedly have guessed many major plot twists. All the twists involving Madison (Annabelle Wallis) and her imaginary friend, Gabriel, was something I guessed way too early. In other words, it’s all too hamfisted and forced. Especially for what James Wan usually makes!
In other words, to me, the basic story is what makes this movie weak. Sure, Wan still utilizes his trademark long shots and shocking opening scene. However, it just wasn’t scary to me overall. And I’m a scaredy-cat with the nickname “ScreamQueen” for crying out loud.
Maybe that was the biggest disappointment for me; Not being scared by a James Wan horror movie!
Watch Malignant on HBO Max or in theaters now!
James Wan is the director of Malignant and also came up with the story with his wife Ingrid Bisu. The screenplay was written by Akela Cooper who previously wrote the rather awesome horror movie Hell Fest (2019). Otherwise, she has worked on a lot of TV series including Jupiter’s Legacy and The 100. Up next is The Nun 2 so she’s sticking with James Wan for now.
What’s worse than having a strange mix of styles and a weak story, is the fact that Ingrid Bisu is also in the movie. She plays the forensic officer, who looks and acts very out of character. A sort of comedic element that makes fun of dead bodies. Sounds weird and off-putting?! Well good, because it is. And yes, I did get a The Reckoning-vibe in the worst way!
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Fortunately, there are also brilliant filmmaker married couples like Mike Flanagan and Kate Siegel or David F. Sandberg and Lotta Losten. So before anyone wants to say that it’s a woman, who ruined these brilliant men, just keep those two couples in mind. It’s all about passion for the project and having a critical approach to what you create.
Something both James Wan and Neil Marshall seems to have forgotten how to do. Though to be fair, James Wan is still a brilliant filmmaker and Malignant is many times better than The Reckoning. That’s just a very low bar and overall, Malignant was a bit of a disappointment to me. Especially being a longtime fan of James Wan movies!
Malignant is out in theaters and on HBO Max from September 10, 2021.
In Theaters: September 10, 2021
On VOD: September 10, 2021, on HBO Max
Director: James Wan
Writers: Akela Cooper, James Wan & Ingrid Bisou (Story)
Stars: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, Mckenna Grace, George Young, Michole Briana White, Ingrid Bisou, Jake Abel, Jacqueline McKenzie.
Malignant follows Madison Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis), who is suffering from bizarre, terrifying visions of brutal murders. In order to stop the killer and save herself, Madison must reckon with her own troubled past.