Review: Malignant (2021)

5 Star.png
5 Star.png

#Cinema, #Film, #movie review

David North-Martino

Sep 12, 2021

Review: Malignant (2021)

Malignant was directed by James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) and stars Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinders, Annabelle).

When I heard that James Wan was returning to the director’s chair, I had high hopes. The Conjuring, Saw, and Insidious franchises he’s helmed have been fantastic.

The problem with Malignant is not the concept but the execution. The whole film is convoluted and filled with cardboard characters that are impossible to care about.

Wan tries to do something a little different perhaps for a slasher monster-style film, and while a laudable attempt it just doesn’t work, producing many unintentional laughs throughout the runtime.

If I had to make comparisons or was trying to sell a movie like this to a studio I’d say this is an M. Night Shyamalan style thriller meets Jeepers Creepers meets The Ring.

That last part is interesting. We have some Japanese horror cinema-inspired imagery but with no rhyme nor reason. It all looks cool but doesn’t connect and is never as creepy as other Asian horror films or the early films they inspired.

If I were a studio executive, I might even buy a movie like this from the likes of Wan. After all, he has a great track record when it comes to horror. And they did! Unfortunately, this flick doesn’t work on any level.

I don’t want to criticize the actors. They all seem to do the best they can with what they’re given, and some are just beginning their careers. Hopefully, they can withstand having this movie on their resumes.

A love triangle is set up but nothing is ever done with it. The detectives are not believable. We never learn enough about the characters to become invested in them. I could go on.

There are some gory scenes but no scares. Surprising for a film directed by Wan. Not unsurprising for a 2021 horror film, we don’t even get any cheap thrills that might make all the silliness bearable.

Do I have any good things to say about Malignant? Not much. However, it does stream beautifully in 4k Dolby Vision.

Malignant is available to stream on HBO Max.


Story Doctoring:

Where to begin? I think a movie like this requires a tighter plot and a little more characterization. The first thing I would do is get a group of younger actors. It would be very easy to use Carrie as a template, maybe with a little Firestarter thrown in for good measure. This wouldn’t create an original story but would be the best way to quickly make a movie that is at least watchable.

Rating: One out of five stars.

DNM