Malignant (2021) is the campy horror movie 80s horror fans would love

Sep. 18th, 2021

WARNING: Some of the images in this MO could spoil plot points or exciting scenes if you have not seen the movie yet! If you do not want to be spoiled, stop reading when you reach the next warning, after the first three images.

Holy shit, Malignant surprised the fuck out of me.

James Wan, please, do more shit like this.

I went into this only knowing that it was a James Wan film, and I pretty much know him for what he's known for, being co-creator of the Saw and Insidious franchises and the creator of The Conjuring universe. I was in high school when Saw came out, and pretty much anyone who was anyone in my peer range went to go see those movies every Halloween, so James Wan and Leigh Whannell already had a pretty damn good impact on me. I thought maybe we'd get some weird addition to his Conjuring universe or something, but what we got was an amazingly weird campy movie, with obvious homages to 80s horror, Argento, Cronenberg, and more.

Now, going back and looking, James even said himself on his Facebook that this is exactly what he was aiming for. And he said this back in July, so he at least tried to fair warn everyone of what to expect, as you can see from his post here:

I guess I probably would have known sooner if I had a Facebook account. He posted that with a link to the trailer, which I didn't see either until after the movie, and I can now see Marketing definitely aimed towards appealing to the Conjuring audience. That's sad because I would absolutely love to see some big-budget campy movies just like this. Malignant had a budget of $40 Million (USD), and every heartfelt ounce of it went straight into this movie. I grew up with movies like Pumpkinhead, so I absolutely love this.

Malignant also doesn't feel completely like James, and that's more than likely due to help from first-time Writer and Producer Ingrid Bisu, as well as Writer Akela Cooper, who participated in giving us Hell Fest.

Well, they obviously nailed exactly what they were aiming to do. Everything in this is fantastic, Michael Burgess' cinematography, Desma Murphy's production design, David E. Scott's art direction, everything just immerses you into this world they've created. Just within 10 minutes, they delve you deep into these two huge ominous and beautiful set pieces.

WARNING: Reading and seeing further images past the next two images may SPOIL you of movie plot points or exciting scenes from the film! Stop here if you do not want to be spoiled!

Our main characters are even in this ominous Victorian house, we're introduced to it in a very horror movie fashion, in a deep fog. Michael Burgess shows off some great shots here as well, and I know many people will remember that camera work when Madison is running through the house and we're shown this all via an overhead.

We get some great fucking practical effects, which I'm grateful for, and I wish more movies would do more often. Even bad practical effects are more than often better than bad CGI, so having a movie that balances the good of both sides very well is very refreshing and I want more of it!

The further I got into the movie, the more I wanted it to keep going. I know there are quite a bit of people who didn't like the pacing of the movie very much, but I think the pacing was just spot on. Every time I got caught off guard by a new story element, it felt like a beat within this film's rhythm.

The only scene to really take me out of the immersion just a little, without spoiling too much of the story, was when they were driving up to the hospital and just parks inches away from that cliff of death and destruction, like that's just a normal thing people do all the time.

I'm also fairly certain that quite a lot of people got a ton of enjoyment out of both the jell cell scene and the prison scene, not to mention being some of the most memorable scenes in this movie.

Even if someone came into this expecting something different or didn't like it, I bet they remember those two scenes.

My Media Opinion (MO) for this film is 09/10.

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