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James Wan’s “Malignant” is Magnificently Brutal (Review)

Over the course of his directorial career, James Wan has launched the successful horror franchises for “Saw,” “Insidious,” and “The Conjuring.”

His latest effort is unlikely to spawn any sequels (famous last words for this genre, I know), but it does deliver a wildly imaginative and terrifically blood-soaked thrill ride.

Annabelle Wallis (“Peaky Blinders”) stars as Madison Lake, a pregnant woman living with an abusive husband. Early on in the film, he throws her against their bedroom wall during an argument and nearly knocks her unconscious. She is able to lock him out of the room, which sends him to the living room couch for the night.

Madison wakes up hours later with her head bloodied to the sounds of an intruder. By the time she makes it downstairs, she finds her husband gruesomely shredded to pieces and has to deal with police detectives, at least one of whom (Michole Briana White, running circles around every other person in this film in a fun performance) doesn’t believe a word of her explanation of what happened.

In the meantime, Madison begins have grisly visions that appear to have her able to watch the killer going after their victims in real time. The targets are connected to a psychiatric facility and a bizarre case from nearly 30 years prior that only slowly is revealed to viewers as the story rolls on.

Let’s get one thing clear, to know more about where the story goes would ruin the fun. And if you find yourself unsure of the first act, just buckle up and get ready because while things drag a bit in the middle, the absurdly fun twist of the final thirty or so minutes will have you reeling.

Wan utilizes some visually stunning CGI as Madison’s visions from the killer appear on screen, but otherwise the movie is chock full of practical effects and outstanding stunt work (especially from Zoe Bell).

“Malignant” is gory, ridiculous, and brilliantly bonkers. If you’re loading up your queue for movies to watch for Halloween, check this one out early before it disappears from HBO Max on October 10.

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