I never know what movies are streaming vs theatrical release only anymore. I’ve been trying to find a time to go to the theater to see this movie for days, and finally I pulled up HBO Max and saw it available to stream there. I gotta say, I’m glad I didn’t have to pay $15 in a theater to see this movie.
‘Malignant’ is a new horror movie written and directed by James Wan, starring Annabelle Wallis as a woman who starts to have visions of murders as they are happening. James Wan is an absolute master of horror. There’s no debating that. But even masters have missteps. Unfortunately I found this movie extremely disappointing, and had many moments that made me feel like Wan started going backwards in his craft. A lot of ‘Malignant’ and the way it is shot and paced reminds me of the original ‘Saw’ film. It feels weird coming from me, someone who loves the ‘Saw’ franchise, to make that sound like a bad thing, but James Wan has evolved past that style. I can’t tell if the acting was bad because the actors in the film were bad, or if they were directed that way. I could see that being a stylistic choice, but regardless it doesn’t work. It starts to feel very campy, and not in a great way. I also really disliked the music. It felt too rock/pop and did not match the vibe of the film at all. Again, I could see that maybe being a nod to 80’s horror but I just didn’t feel like it elevated anything.
I know there has been a lot of bad pointed out so far, but I don’t think this movie is horrible by any means. There are some great things that really try to balance the scales. The gore for example is something that I have been missing in recent James Wan films. It is graphic and very violent at times, which is something I love in my horror from time to time. Also, the part that I think a lot of people will be talking about is how the 3rd act shakes the whole movie up. It really saves the whole film in my opinion. It ties together a lot of what Wan set up earlier in the film in a really creative and surprising way. Unfortunately it does also try to force a random ‘moral of the story’ at the end too as well as sets up for a sequel that I don’t forsee happening, but that isn’t that much of an issue for me.
Overall, I wanted to love this movie so much, because there has never been a James Wan horror film I haven’t liked but I think my expectations were too high. I thought ‘Malignant’ needed to establish a better tone and iron out more details.
Worth watching for a movie night with friends on a rainy night in the house, but I would save your money in the theater.