‘Malignant’ is dumber than daddy’s jokes | Arts + Culture
The scary season is upon us, at least in Hollywood’s heart and wallet. With Halloween approaching (pun intended) in just under two months, the timing of James Wan’s crazy new horror film “Malignant” couldn’t be stranger … or silly.
If you’re rich enough, you can watch it from the comfort of your home on HBO Max through October 11, but it’s best to see it on the big screen. Not because it’s good – the soapy acting speaks for itself – but so that you can chuckle with others at an undercooked plot packed with drama, gore and a demon blasting. parkour.
Appealing to its Hollywood horror tropes, “Malignant” begins in an obscure research facility, where Dr. Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie) experiments on a demonic patient she calls Gabriel. In a revolutionary turn of events, Gabriel escapes from said prison, killing a few workers for the vibrations before he disappears into the void. Step into the present, to Madison (Annabelle Wallis), a pregnant woman being manhandled by her husbands asshole. A gruesome murder later, Madison begins to have visions of murders linked to her past and the mass-killer demon Gabriel. It ultimately becomes a race between Madison’s sister, Sydney (Maddie Hasson) and weirdly handsome detective Kekoe Shaw (George Young) to find the culprit.
You might know where this is going. Again, maybe not.
Aside from the ending, this movie is predictable. It might be horrible, with a lot of disfigured bodies and graphic surgeries, but it’s not scary. Instead of creating suspense, it relies on jumps, silly people making even dumber decisions (as usual) and a dramatic chorus of jerky violins to reinforce the already broken tension. The score is badly chosen, which makes “Malignant” more like “Fast and Furious” than “The Conjuring”.
Surprisingly, the dialogue is flat, which is saying a lot for a horror movie. Every time someone speaks, it’s like reading a book aloud in English class, and every sentence is straight out of a John Green book. This, combined with some crappy acting, is a perfect recipe for unrealistic characters. Especially when these characters are making stupid decisions. “Malignant” is meant to be a horror movie, so inevitably the characters have to be jerks. But is following a demon alone in a dark sewer really police protocol?
Along with a slim storyline also comes half-baked character development. The basis of many good horror movies is the protagonist, the emotional crutch that gives you someone to put down roots. Madison is the opposite of that. It’s almost easier to root for the villain, especially when you don’t care if the protagonist lives or dies.
The only thing that gives the “Malignant” flavor is the twist. Everything that came before it is predictable and it takes a while to get there, but once you get over Madison’s mop drudgery, the movie takes a 360-degree turn. The half-hearted horror flick turns into an entertaining, semi-gore action flick filled with epic fights, knives, and a demon ninja showing off his skills.
But in the case of “Malignant”, the end still does not justify the means. Even if this disappointing horror film were released on Halloween, it wouldn’t make any difference. Unless of course you’re in the mood to laugh, not shout.