Sunday, September 12, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 2021
Director: James Wan
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jean Louisa Kelly, Susanna Thompson, Jake Abel, Jacqueline McKenzie, Christian Clemenson, Mercedes Colon, Ingrid Bisu, Amir AboulEla
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 4
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
After the colossal commercial success of "Aquaman", director James Wan is back, this time around going back to his lower budget, horror specific origins, where he originally started and also where he has crafted some of his best features to date, namely "The Conjuring" and "Insidious". "Malignant" focuses its narrative on Maddison Mitchell, a nurse who is currently pregnant and overworked. Her husband, Derek, is abusive and non supportive, and following a particularly vicious discussion, throws her against the wall, resulting in a heavy concussion. Later that evening, there's what it seems to be a home invasion, resulting in Derek's death, and Maddie losing the baby. As the police investigate Derek's murder, a series of subsequent gruesome murders starts occurring. As the police looks through data from one of the victims, they realize these doctors that are being murdered are all connected to Maddison's childhood, something she has no recollection of. Turns out, her actual name is Emily, and she was adopted when she was a young girl, following some traumatic events. She repressed some of those memories, and they may be essential to figure out what is happening.
"Malignant" definitely falls more in tune with James Wan's prior features "Dead Silence" and "Death Sentence", more so than the more supernatural inclined features which were "Insidious" and "The Conjuring". It's also a film where the presence of his frequent collaborator Leigh Whannell, is heartily missed. Whannell in all their collaborations, has always managed to imbue their scripts and narratives with an intelligence and humor, both of which are somewhat missing from this endeavor. While the film is finely crafted, and the cast embarks on the journey that Wan establishes for them, there's definitely a few components missing, namely giving some dimension to these characters, and also making the threat both more visceral, surprising and not reliant so heavily on gore and brutality. What has always been so rewarding about James Wan's features, is how economical his setups for the narrative actually are, and how inventive he manages to be, with premises that at times may be rather repetitive. "Malignant" suffers from a lack of nuance to its story, portraying its central heroine as a one note victim, failing to provide much dimension or arc to her journey during the narrative. For all its intended surprise third act, it never truly gels, since Maddison as a character never got a chance to be more than just an asterisk to everything taking place. Though not as solid as his previous and more celebrated features, it still demonstrates James Wan's ability in staging and crafting a dynamic narrative, with a great score from Joseph Bishara and equally impressive cinematography from Michael Burgess. A minor effort from a usually compelling and interesting director.