Malignant ★★★½

As I went to the cinema this evening, I was wondering why had not yet read or seen any reviews of Malignant. It is usually a bad sign when the studio refuses to show the film to critics beforehand. Now that I have seen the movie, I can understand why. I am pretty sure that Malignant will crash and burn with most critics and also with a majority of the mainstream audiences. This movie was not made for them. So who was it made for, you may ask? And the answer is, for weirdos like me.

And to be honest, it did not click with me right away. After a promising start, the film started to settle into an all too familiar ghost movie groove. Very Conjuring and Insidious like. And I was worried. I’m kinda sick of that trend by now. It also did not help that the movie did not feel scary to me at all. I read beforehand that this was supposed to be an homage to Giallo’s and Italian horror movies. And I saw that, but those elements did not always click and at times where handled rather clumsily. It felt to me, like the movie wanted to be taken so seriously but instead got more and more ridicules. Until I finally realized, what this movie truly was. An homage to "trashy" Giallo’s and "trashy" Italian horror movies. And at that point, I thought to myself: Ok, what this movie needs to do, right now, is drop any delusions of sophistication, embrace the ridiculousness and run with it. And fuck me, that’s what it did. And it won me over.

The third act goes totally of the rails and is just balls-to-the-wall exploitation goofiness. Heads up to James Wan for having the balls to go there. Seriously, getting this movie by some studio executives couldn’t have been easy. Now, the movie is still far from perfect. Even for what it is. As I said, it takes a little too long to get going. I think Wan could have skipped the false (ghost story) trail and just gone for a tight 90 minutes exploitation romp. And for my very personal taste, the movie could have also used some old fashioned sleaze. After all, gratuitous sex and nudity were hallmarks of the Italian genre cinema this one pays homage to. But they stayed away from those elements entirely. Which, unfortunately, is to be expected these days.

Still, if you are into these kind of movies, I implore you to give this one a shot. Go to the cinema and take along some unsuspecting friends. I have a feeling that Malignant could use a little love in following days and weeks. I doubt, that critics and general audiences will react kindly to this one. And we, or at least me, need a little bit of this unhinged lunacy in modern genre movies every once in a while.

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