With Saw, The Conjuring, and Insidious series, James Wan has had a large hand in shaping modern multiplex horror. After a brief foray into summer blockbuster territory with Fast 7 and Aquaman, he’s come back to horror with Malignant. But those expecting straight popcorn scares are in for a shock as he’s mixed his love for the horror genre with the big silly entertainment of the blockbusters to create a horror B-movie that throws everything at the bloody wall.
It’s best to go in not knowing much about Malignant, but it does help to temper expectations. Forget the dark, generic trailer, Malignant is much closer to a film like Drag Me To Hell – a director with a love for the genre leveraging his influence (the billion-dollar box office receipts from his superhero and supercar movies probably gave him a lot of free reign from the studio) to make the movie that he wants. You can see a giallo influence and ‘70s and ‘80s splatter films (and there is a lot of splatter), but most importantly, Wan remembers something often forgotten – to let the audience have fun.
It’s a shame it doesn’t do it straight away. The first act feels a little too po-faced – it should give more of a hint as to what the rest of the film will be like. Instead, it feels a little flat and it’s not until halfway through that the overbearing score and overacting clicks into place. But Wan makes good use of the space of the frame and the movement of the camera, and by the time things start dropping into place you’ll be pulled in and by the third act, should have a big grin on your face. It’s a pleasure to see a film like this – an original story allowed to exist as a product of an artist’s intent with a big budget.
This isn’t a film to make the popcorn go flying – it’s one to be enjoyed tucking into the bucket. Get on it’s wavelength and Malignant is a lot of stupid fun.
Malignant is in cinemas now.