Here we have our next dose of horror from director James Wan; the man who sent chills up our spines with the likes of 'Saw', 'Insidious', 'The Conjuring' and 'Fast & Furious 7' (although those chills were different). This was a title that, at least from my perspective, has been floating under the radar enough that I wasn't fully aware it existed until I was looking for something that would be released this week for review. The determining factor was, of course, Wan, himself. Speaking on a personal level, I am a fan. I feel like he's breathed a little bit of new into horror while maintaining a lot of that classic stuff we all know and love.
'Malignant' is another example of a relatively fresh take on a relatively old idea. One thing I will say right off the bat is that, speaking for myself, I found this to be entirely far too predictable. I wasn't entirely sure what the "Malignant" title was all about, but when things start going down in this, it's so easy to draw a conclusion. The mystery is in how this conclusion will play out - and let me just say, it's campy, and a bit reminiscent of a certain 'Simpsons' Halloween segment with hints of... 'Harry Potter' (you'll see what I mean by the end) and even at one point, kind of 'The Matrix'. I didn't think the film was altogether that great, but I can't deny that it was rather interesting in the way it all played out.
Things open back in the early 90s where Dr. Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie), Dr. Victor Fields (Christian Clemenson) and Dr. John Gregory (Amir AboulEla) treat a psychatric patient named Gabriel who, one day, runs amok, kills a handful of staff, and we discover that this is a kid who should probably be under the care of Professor Xavier. This young man has superpowers, which include manipulation of electricity, and the ability to broadcast his thoughts through speakers. Near the end of this almost 'Jurassic Park'-like opening, we get our first glimpse of Gabriel - some sort of terrible creature who the doctors are trying to subdue.
We fast-forward twenty-seven years where we meet a pregnant woman named Madison (Annabelle Wallis) who comes home to an abusive stereotype named Derek (Jake Abel). There's a fight, and he violently throws her head against the wall, prompting Madison to lock herself in the bedroom away from him for any amount of sleep. During sleep, she has a nightmare about a killer in the house, which may or may not have a sort of 'Elm Street'-like attachment to the real world. Without spoiling anything much, we find out soon enough. This eventually leads Madison down some strange rabbit hole where she learns some gritty details about her own past which could lead to solving a murder mystery that currently surrounds her life.
Altogether, I wouldn't claim this to be Wan's best film, but I might also suggest that Wan could be an acquired taste for most. 'Saw' for example is a series I find altogether hit or miss, but I personally see the first as a horror classic at this point - and that's the only one Wan did. I might also argue that he did the best of the 'Fast' movies with the seventh, and 'The Conjuring' might be the best "haunted house" series currently running. But this is all my opinion, and if anyone were to debate any of this, I wouldn't try too hard to hit back, because I totally get not liking his style just as well. But I do think if you're like me, and a fan (though admittedly not what you'd call die-hard), it's worth checking out. The twist ending will either make you cringe or smile, but if you're lucky, it could lead to both, as Wan's films tend to do.
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