Malignant

Malignant ★★★★

I have never been particularly on the Wan train, but this is one of the most hootin' and hollerin' films of our time. As he did with the superhero genre with Aquaman, Wan leans into the stupidity rather than trying to "elevate" shit, and instead of using horror to make a leaden statement about trauma or whatever, he uses a genre with elastic boundaries to go all-out with a maximal style that combines the best of practical set design and camera placement and movement alongside digital effects that delight in the strange. The way the world around Madison wobbles when the camera pushes in on her, or that dissolving feature that bridges her own space with the scene of the next crime, these touches add rather than subtract weight as so much CG animation does these days. Wan explores the comical proportions of the main house and its subterranean lairs with gleeful abandon, craning around in wild angles, De Palma-esque top-down movement between rooms, all of it lucid even as it delights in the incongruous dimensions and locations of the setting.

The absurdity of the villain is embraced (the evil tempting hiss "a nice slice of cake for mommmmm" made me HOWL with laughter that was of course intentional). And when the final act in the cell turns into a total blast of horror-action-comedy worthy of Army of Darkness, a movie I was already loving punches into the next gear. I can't think of a more thoroughly entertaining movie this year.