The latest horror film from director
James Wan (Aquaman, Insidious, Saw), Malignant,
reminded me of early '80s gutter trash, specifically the entertaining Basket
Case and The Beast Within (both released in 1982). Malignant
is also accompanied by a synth rock score (Joseph Bishara) that echoes Italian
horror gore films of the '70s and '80s. All this may sound like Malignant
is a fun little splatter flick. It's not. Actually, it's pretty terrible
because of an overcooked plot, some truly ear-achingly stilted moments of
dialog, and the old overuse of CGI.
The movie opens in the past at a
private hospital, where an unseen mutant wreaks havoc, that is until the
doctors decide to put him in his place. Cut to present day where pregnant nurse
Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is physically beaten by her garbage-of-a-human-being
husband, Derek (Jake Abel). Madison ends up having a miscarriage and is
constantly bleeding from the back of her head. Soon after, however, Derek is
violently murdered by a shadowy figure. Madison witnesses the killing in a sort
of waking dream. In fact, this happens every time the figure kills, and, boy,
does he kill a lot. To say more would give away too much, but I was able to
figure out what was going on pretty early into the movie.
Most movies are predictable, but they
can still be a lot of fun regardless. Malignant, however, is dull and
humorless, and the filmmakers seem to think that the big revelation is going to
knock our socks off. Not if you see it coming.
When we do see the "being" that is the
killer in its digital form, it is laughable because of how cartoon-y the
effects look, and when the movie cut from the digital version of the killer to
the practical, it doesn't match.
The film really drowns in its use of
CGI. When Madison has a "vision" of a murder, she is transported to the scene
of the crime. Every single time this happens, the camera spins around her and,
through digital means, her original environment disintegrates into the location
of the murder. We see this every time. To quote Monty Python and the Holy
Grail: "Get on with it!"
is currently playing at the Prytania Theatres at Canal Place and is also
available to stream on HBO Max.
½ stars (out of four)