Malignant – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White
In cinemas now
As a horror fan, I really like James Wan’s work. He has a penchant for the old school scare tactics rather than CGI. He also tends to work with clever scripts with plenty of twists and turns such as SAW and Insidious, he continues that tradition here. Indeed, they were so anxious to keep the twists and turns in this movie under wraps that there was no press screening and I had to wait until it hit cinemas to watch it for this review!
Without giving any spoilers this begins, like so many horror films, in a creepy hospital as a doctor gets set to perform surgery. Flash forward a few years and a young woman Madison (Wallis) is expecting a child following several miscarriages. When her abusive husband is murdered during an apparent home invasion she loses her baby and finds herself a suspect. She also starts having terrifying waking dreams of people being murdered. Unfortunately, these turn out to be genuine killings and she finds herself living in fear of her connection to them while her sister Sydney (Hassen) tries to get to the bottom of what has triggered this.
Wallis is a surprisingly good scream queen and works well with the rest of the cast. Most of the characters are horror movie clichés – the bedraggled confused cop, the doctor engaging in dodgy experiments, the desperate sibling delving into their families past – but the actors try and make them their own.
There is a lot going on here. It’s part serial killer thriller, part psychological thriller and part old fashioned horror movie with all the tropes you would expect from that. The murders are suitably gruesome and Madison’s complicated connection to them ultimately leads to a very impressive final act.
It takes Wan a while to get there though. At nearly two hours long this could easily lose 15-20 minutes. The running time does alter the pace and while it is still an exciting watch it doesn’t rack up the tension as effectively as it could. Despite this, it is still a very atmospheric and, dare I say it, clever, addition to his horror portfolio. Although he telegraphs the killer early on and throughout the story when the reveal comes you still get a surprise – something that is tricky to achieve with die-hard horror fans. Not for the faint-hearted, this is a well crafted (albeit slightly too long) horror that is clever and creepy with a serious amount of gore and plenty of twists and turns. It has future cult classic written all over it.