malignant | james wan | akela cooper | annabelle wallis | maddie hasson | george young | crime | mystery | thriller | united states | china | slasher | neo-giallo | zoe bell | mckenna grace | michole briana white | medical | jean louisa kelly | susanna thompson | jake abel
Director: James Wan
Writer: Akela Cooper
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson and George Young
This is a movie that I saw the poster for when I went to the theater. From there I heard some buzz about it being the new James Wan film that was in horror. It might also have giallo vibes to it as well. Regardless, I like to support horror so this went on a list to check out for me. Jaime did watch this as well after seeing the trailer. The synopsis is Madison (Annabelle Wallis) is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.
We start this back in 1993 at an institute. I believe its name is Simion. There is a Dr. Florence Weaver (Jacqueline McKenzie) recording herself as she talks about an odd child named Gabriel. He is unruly and they are getting to their end with what they can do. A Dr. Victor Fields (Christian Clemenson) informs her that he is free. Dr. Weaver takes the tough decision that they must cut this ‘cancer’ out.
The movie then shifts to the present day where Madison Mitchell (Wallis) comes home to her husband of Derek (Jake Abel). She is in health care and tired. We also see she is quite pregnant. Derek doesn’t seem to be as happy and we learn that she has had multiple miscarriages. She upsets him by shutting off the television and he lashes out, hitting her head against the wall. He apologizes and goes downstairs where she locks the door. That night, someone attacks and kills Derek. Madison comes down to see what happened and she is attacked as well.
Being called to the scene are Kekoa Shaw (George Young) and Regina Moss (Michole Briana White) who are both detectives. The attack was brutal and not all of the evidence makes sense. Their only witness is Madison, who is in the hospital. Through her sister, Sydney Lake (Maddie Hasson), Madison learns she lost the baby. She doesn’t have a lot of information to relay to Kekoa either.
The next person that is targeted by this killer is Dr. Weaver. Madison was home when this attacked happened, but she was able to see it happen. She went into a form of paralysis and the world around her changes. Dr. Weaver received a call before it happened and she looked at a file for young girl who was in her care. Madison becomes the prime suspect when she goes to the police to tell them what she saw and then even more so when she directs them to the next victim of Dr. Fields. We know that Madison is connected to this killer, but how? The more they look into what happened at the Simion Institute, it makes her an even bigger suspect. Who is doing these killings though?
That is where I’m going to leave my recap as I think that gets you up to speed here without going into spoilers. Now I avoided reading or hearing what people thought about this before I got the chance to check it out. I did hear a podcast before writing this though, which was the Horror in the House of Sammons. What I’m glad is that Jamie over there made a connection to another movie I was thinking off and Brian makes another that I didn’t think of, but makes a lot of sense too. I am going to avoid spoilers here. This was just something that I should preface with.
Where I want to start is with the title itself. I knew that we would have something medical coming in. It doesn’t come as a shock with the cold open or the credits. What they do with this is quite interesting. It is taking something we have seen before in horror, but I think we do something a bit different here that I enjoyed quite a bit. I did tell Jaime a major reveal early on into this movie and I was right to an extent. I told her that if I would have been dead on, it would have hurt it. Since they added enough on to it, I appreciated the truth of our killer. It even explains things with how it moves and acts as well.
Next I want to delve into something I’ve heard. Wan states this is his take on a giallo. I only get that from the lighting of the movie, which I loved as it harkens back to Bava or Argento. The killer does wear black gloves and it is a mystery as to who they are. We even have Madison and Sydney trying to solve who the killer is. The soundtrack also has this vibe at times. For me though, this is more of a slasher film. I would loosely give it the term of neo-giallo if anything. Not that this matters, but just my thoughts on this concept.
Since I’m going to avoid spoilers, I’ll move us next to the effects and cinematography. For the former, I think they are good for the most part. We get blood and the attacks are violent. There are even some good effects with our killer being played at times by a contortionist Troy James. Everything that they did practically looked good to me. There is some CGI. This I’ll be honest I’m a bit hit or miss on. I think there are some things that are good, like the transition from Madison as she sees what Gabriel is doing. Some of the action sequences though were a bit much for me. This bleeds into the cinematography. Wan did an excellent job with how this was shot. There are just some things done with the action sequences that turned me off to the movie. I understand that our killer is supernatural, but it is also grounded in reality. Some of the things we see I couldn’t suspend enough disbelief. I’m still mostly positive on these parts of the movie.
That will take me then to the acting. I thought that Wallis was solid as our lead here. I like that she is torn by what is happening around her, but she cannot explain it. She does things that make her a suspect and that was real for me. Hasson was solid as her sister who no matter what loves her and wants to help. Young is good along with White. I think they play well off each other as our detectives. I thought the rest of the cast was solid for rounding this out to direct our characters to where they go. I did want to shout out Zoë Bell and Mckenna Grace in their cameos. I also thought the combination of Ray Chase, Marina Mazepa and James were good as Gabriel as well.
So then in conclusion here, I thought this movie was solid. There was buzz so I was excited to see and I think that this movie lived up to the expectations. We have an interesting story that is blending slasher elements with a bit of giallo and even a medical style movie. The acting was solid. A majority of the effects were as well and the same could be said for the cinematography. The soundtrack I thought worked for the most part. I also like the elements that were incorporated into this movie from other horror films while still doing their own things. For me, I would say that this is a good movie and one of the better for the year. This is another that I want to rewatch before the year end as well.
My Rating: 8 out of 10