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Here’s the thing.

I’m a huge fan of James Wan’s previous work and in particular when he skews his lense with horror gaze.

There’s little wonder that he has so finely tuned his craft that franchises have been born from his visions, be it Saw; Insidious; or The Conjuring. I have no doubt that given the box office pull that Malignant received that there is a high chance that this too will go through similar motions.

There are a number of critics that have lapped up this latest outing from Wan, citing it as a bonkers masterpiece, but I personally struggle with this depiction, as my response to the film was one so jarring and disjointed that I felt constantly thrown out of the narrative, grappling to find something that I could connect with.

I guess that this detachment I felt was primarily the same reason that some people were praising the film. Wan and screenwriter Akela Cooper have fused a number of subgenres together to create a unique style in their storytelling. One of the most notable of these subgenres is giallo; an italian thriller and visually stunning movement that was spearheaded by Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and Lucio Fulci to name but a few.

I can’t fault the attempt in developing these styles to create what appears to be its own thing, and perhaps this is where the applause comes in, but scratch beneath the surface, the film suffers for having more style than substance. The narrative just doesn’t stick and the dialogue is incredibly ropey.

The concept itself reminded me of a hyper-realistic version of Stephen King’s The Dark Half with the whole conjoined twins thing, where the rejected disembodied twin’s dark energy resides from within, drawing forth all its negativity to enact revenge against those who conspired against him. 

In this instance, Maddison (Annabelle Wallis) is having nightmares of people being killed only to find that the next day that these dreams are reality. She is also on the verge of a breakdown, where she is slipping from the world and questioning everything that is going on around her. We slowly learn that there is more than meets the eye with her visions, and Maddison along with her sister, Sydney Lake (Maddison Hasson) try to uncover the truth behind it all, Their quest leads them to a crazed and unthinkable conclusion that may put both their lives at risk.

The Diagnosis:

At its heart, Malignant is heralded by a visionary director in James Wan, who continues to push the boundaries of filmmaking. And here he presents a palette of genres in the offering.

The result however is a curious mix that never fully resonates on screen; a case of where the heart and mind doesn’t necessarily communicate with each other.

There are glimmers of brilliance, but too often this is overshadowed by the visual flair which is laid on thickly, It comes down to a question of taste, and for me, for once Wan’s latest outing was too hard to swallow.

– Saul Muerte