REVIEW: Maniacal third act makes ‘Malignant’ worth watching

“Malignant” may not be the scariest movie of the year, or of the past few years, but what it leads up to certainly makes it a memorable horror experience.

The flick follows the story of Madison (Annabelle Walis), a woman with an unclear past who lives in Seattle with her Husband. It’s clear from the get-go that their marriage is strained and the film opens with them having a fight.

That night, Madison’s husband is murdered and she has a vision of it happening. From that day on, more murders begin taking place and each time Madison has horrible visions of it taking place. As this happens, Madison begins to dig more into her past to see what the connection is.

“Malignant” is a rather fun slasher, with hints of Giallo (an Italian suspense film genre) and some other great ideas at play. While the film’s story is mainly built on a typical detective investigation plot looking into the murders, there’s still a lot of intrigue in the mystery of Madison’s background that holds a viewer’s interest.

The solid buildup of what’s really going on is featured alongside stylistic death scenes, a wonderfully unique murder weapon and even a great foot chase. Director James Wan, who also co-wrote the script, had a clear vision with the horror scenes and they are all well crafted.

This is especially true in the movie’s final act, where it scores a lot of its points. The final half hour of this flick goes completely off the walls, and it’s absolutely glorious.

Courtesy Warner Bros.

The twist of the film is weird, freaky and ups the ante for a fantastical finale. The slasher in the film moves and attacks in bizarre ways, while the kills are brutal with a big body count, making for a praiseworthy climactic sequence.

The film does fall short in some places, though. One noticeable issue is that the supporting cast isn’t the strongest.

For example, Michole White and George Young play generic detectives right out of an episodic TV series, and add little beyond being standard cops. Maddie Hasson who plays Madison’s sister, meanwhile, is often overly melodramatic.

This is somewhat tied to the script, though, which has a sizable amount of clichés and rough dialogue. There are clear areas where the screenplay could have been tighter, too, such as cutting out a crime scene investigator who seems to have a crush on Young’s character. It was unnecessary and the dialogue is poor in relation to the character.

Wallis, fortunately, is still pretty good in the lead role. She is convincing in ther panicked, confused moments and brings a sort of 80s horror charm to the portrayal. Her work here is much more memorable than her performance in 2017’s “The Mummy.”

The movie is so visually enjoyable that a lot of the issues can be forgiven as well. Wan and director of photography Michael Burgess bring a lot of style to the screen with some great shots, such as a bird’s eye view of Madison running through her home in one of the tense scenes. The lighting and color also set the mood beautifully in several moments.

“Malignant” isn’t a horror masterpiece, but it is a fun, cheesy and definitely memorable cinematic experience. While it may not frighten an audience to a high degree, it will creep viewers out and take them on a wild ride. 3.8 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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