James Wan returns to the chair of horror directorship with Malignant. A little surprise that this is not a derivative project from the Conjuring and Insidious universes, through the Malignant film, Wan seems to be experimenting again.
The reason is, although there are still some typical directing styles — such as the clear booming sound effect factor (which is proven to be capable of surprising the audience-ed), or a long one-take with shots taken from above — both the themes that are put forward and the choice of narration style actually make the writer believes that the style of presentation this time is more like the films directed by M. Night Shyamalan. In short, if the writer were asked to describe this film, he would say Malignant is a Wan film with a Shyamalan flavor.
Malignant is about a young woman named Madison. After dealing with his abusive partner, an act of physical violence causes him to begin experiencing mystical events. He began to be haunted by terrible visions of a sadistic murder. The conflict is getting more complex, when it is known that the vision is actually a reality. Well, it’s the victim, as well as all aspects.
Together with her young sister, Sydney, Madison then seeks to solve the mystery, which leads her into a spiral controlled by Gabriel, a mysterious psychopath who seems to have perplexing connections to her mind. On the other hand, Detective Kekoa Shaw who handles this sadistic murder case begins to find evidence that Madison herself is the key to the mystery of this case.
The film Malignant is like Wan’s experiment to try to provide a wilder and crazier dish than the ones he has presented before, including Insidious and The Conjuring, and for that, according to the writer, the filmmaker deserves more appreciation. Through Malignant, James Wan reminds us that no matter how many blockbuster blockbusters he has and will direct, he is still a horror auteur whose biggest influence is Ozploitation, Italian supernatural thrillers, and old gore horror films.
In fact, what Wan presented here is nothing new. However, the combination of one of his old ideas and the choice of a slightly out of the ordinary style of play managed to make him present a horror dish with a slightly different taste from his other horror films. The influence of the above-mentioned film genres on Malignant is true.
Here, Wan is like showing off his expertise in combining several genres in one strand of the film’s storyline. Opening with the typical prologue of a science fiction action film, initially, Wan builds on some of the tense moments in the early sequence with his trademark overhead shots and his signature ghost horror jumpscare scene. However, he gradually turned it into a psychopathic horror film style, before finally turning it into a superhero-style action film. The final half may feel anti-climactic for some, but admittedly, Malignant has some fantastic and terrifying moments that are carefully crafted, such as how Madison’s vision is poured, the stunning overhead longshot scene, and of course the revealing twist scene that feels worthy. became the candidate for the most interesting action scene of the year.
In terms of the lineup of players, the key actors (Annabelle Wallis, especially-ed) are able to meet the needs of the film’s performance. Wallis plays the psychologically broken Madison quite well, and some of her scenes with Gabriel, stand out in a compelling way. Meanwhile, the lineup of supporting players is not bad, although they are sometimes hampered by weak characterization.
Overall, Wan’s experimentation with Malignant probably won’t be as smooth as his other horror-directed titles, which already have such a big reputation. How not, with a filmography that has a row of successful horror saga such as Saw, The Conjuring, and Insidious, the public will certainly have very high expectations. Although Malignant may not be able to reach the standards of the class that the three great saga has achieved for some, this film remains a bold unexpected horror. This is a very entertaining scare with a heavy emphasis on the absurd that the writer personally thinks this film deserves to be an instant cult and cult classic in the future.
Malignant will start showing in Indonesian cinemas on October 6, 2021