Malvern Daily Record
James Wan’s Malignant: a big budget parody?
If you hear that the new HBO Max horror film Malignant is a bad movie, that’s half-true. James Wan’s new bloody extravaganza is an extremely well-produced movie that is pretty much bad in every other department... but maybe that’s the point.
This is one of the most confounding major studio releases I’ve seen in some time. It’s understandable that James Wan, maestro behind such movies as Insidious and The Conjuring 1 and 2, get such a big budget to make whatever he wants, but I just can’t believe that no one told him that his movie is absolute trash.
Malignant is a movie that would ruin the career of most directors. It almost seems like Wan made this to get out from under the heavy burden of all of the horror universes he’s created in the past.
Marketed like traditional horror fare, Malignant is anything but traditional. Starting off with an off-kilter scene reminiscent of something Sam Raimi might dream up, the movie then heads into familiar territory with an abusive husband and a pregnant wife experiencing supernatural terror before descending into pure stupidity.
Aside from the plot elements, let me also say that the acting is awful. Considering that Wan has gotten magnificent performances from Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lin Shaye, and many others in the past... what went wrong here?
He did hire his new wife to play the throw-away part of a criminal scientist, but it’s not just the minor parts that are poorly acted. Even the leads feel truly under-prepared.
The plot feels janky as well with the tone switching from offthe-wall psycho humor to Italian giallo horror to haunted house thriller every couple of minutes. This combined with the campy acting makes me think that all of this was purposeful. If it is all purposeful, then why the hell was it made?
If James Wan is sick of making horror movies, I’m sure that he can switch over to another genre with little hassle. He’s a well known name that has proven box-office results.
I think if he would have gone to WB and HBO and told them he wanted to make an action movie, they would have let him. Why, then, did he put ten movie scripts into a blender and then shove $40 million in as well?
Let me get back to the movie. The bottom line is, if you like so bad it’s good fare like Nicholas Cage’s Wicker Man, Basket Case, Jason X, or even Birdemic, you’ll probably like this one.
While at first it doesn’t seem like anything is amiss in the tried and true formula, Malignant descends into pure schlock by the end. It is absolutely ridiculous, but if that’s your sort of thing, it’s pretty enjoyable.
If I would have known what to expect, I would have liked it more. I might attempt a second round surrounded by some friends and see if this one will play in a party setting. Unless some previously unseen subtext comes to the surface in the near future, Malignant is so bad it’s good and ilttle else.