Director James Wan’s latest horror offering “Malignant” (now in theaters and on HBO Max) is absolutely positively bonkers. It begins sorta slowly and weakly, gets more interesting as it reveals more of its insanity and then concludes on a note that’s all too pat for my liking. “Malignant” is overlong at 111 minutes, but it’s a wild ride that’s undoubtedly well worth taking.
Annabelle Wallis (“Annabelle”) stars as Madison, a woman who’s in an abusive marriage to Derek (Jake Abel, he played Mike Love in “Love & Mercy”). She’s currently with child after having had a series of miscarriages. Derek, true to his douchey form, slams Madison’s head into the wall when she turns off the mixed martial arts broadcast he was watching so they could talk. (To add insult to injury he angrily asks her, “How many times do I have to watch my children die inside of you?”)
The collision causes an evil entity to enter the couple’s home/life. This creature can control electricity, is more than happy to wreck anyone who crosses its path and walks hella weirdly (it could very well be called “The Crab Walk Killer”). When Madison awakens the following morning, Derek’s dead (bummer!), she’s lost the pregnancy and is now randomly transported through time and space to witness murders being perpetrated by the monster.
Detectives Shaw (George Young) and Moss (Michole Briana White, who kinda reminded me of comedienne Wanda Sykes, which prompted me to laugh at the thought of Sykes being cast in the role/movie) suspect Madison of killing her husband and committing these subsequent murders. Madison must now team with her adoptive sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson, “We Summon the Darkness”) and mother Jeanne (Susanna Thompson, Moira Queen on The CW’s “Arrow”) to clear her name and discover the connection between she and the creature.
To say anymore of the plot would be a disservice to y’all. Suffice it to say Wan and screenwriter Akela Cooper (a writer and producer on shows such as “American Horror Story,” “Luke Cage” and “Jupiter’s Legacy” and scripter of the 2018 slasher flick “Hell Fest” – working from a story co-credited to Wan and his wife Ingrid Bisu, who co-stars as Crime Scene Technician Winnie) really go for it. “Malignant” feels like a Dario Argento giallo meets a Frank Henenlotter freak out. It dabbles in body horror and women in prison pictures (replete with a bleached blonde mulleted Zoë Bell (“Death Proof”)). There’s a sequence that’ll make Blue Lives Matter folks go blue in the face. Joseph Bishara’s score riffs on the Pixies “Where Is My Mind?” to awesome effect. Cinematographer Michael Burgess’ curious camera employs excellent POV shots through a peephole and inside both a washing machine and a VCR. There’s a whole helluva lot going on here!
My best advice to y’all is this: if you dig fantastical horror flicks do not pass go, do not collect $200 – go directly to a movie theater or your HBO Max account and watch “Malignant” with the quickness. Don’t let idiots on the Internet spoil its surprises for you.