Ian West’s review published on Letterboxd:
Malignant feels like an unhinged James Wan directing a Corman produced Sam Raimi supernatural giallo-esque grindhouse joint written by Frank Henenlotter.
This is James Wan’s Ghosthouse, an everything to 11 pulpy trash kitchen sink movie that doubles down on the gore while still pulling off those slow zoom tense set-pieces he’s become known for. It looks gorgeous, I loved the score, and it uniquely meshes genres while upping the frantic nature of big budget late summer horror with Wan’s usual stylish flair… and a heightened sense of don’t give a damn absurdity.
It’s a weird movie that’s for sure, and it’s so tonally different from what Wan has been doing but I like that. He more or less dominated and influenced the stylistic landscape of 2010’s haunted house horror, so seeing him compose with his bag of tricks and a grindhouse mentality is such a treat, especially with respectful shades of Argento, De Palma, Cronenberg, Henenlotter, Evil Dead Trap, Cherry Falls, and the Wachowski’s but still feeling very distinctly James Wan.
The script and performances may get called out but none of that bothered me since everything in this movie totally felt intentional… kinda like a modern day vinegar syndrome mind melter… not quite a giallo but totally a weirdo mash of like… Trauma and Evil Dead Trap, and If something like this came out in 1984 it would have at least 5 sequels by now. Also, figuring out the twist before it’s reveal unexpectedly didn’t effect the outcome of this for me whatsoever—that last act still managed to be blow me away and I thought it was pure fire. Similar stories have been done by others, but Wans’ take on this sort of horror lore is a breath of fresh air if you ask me, a nice wild card movie that shakes things up a bit one way or another.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Malignant is that in a sea of message heavy genre offerings about grief, trauma, and other topical issues we just get this weird sicko scuzz and it had me howlin’ the entire runtime. I admire the choice to go all out bonkers on a big studio picture—I felt the same way about A Cure for Wellness, another movie that felt like it was “made for me” and also gives off ‘holy smokes how did this even get made?’ vibes. It def won’t be for everyone… but it sure as hell was up my alley, in fact this bold bonkers trash was so dialed in on my specific tastes that it might even be my favorite movie of the year so far?
I just watched Darkman last night and was re-blown away by it… I was so fixated on Raimi’s frenzied mad scientist style and when it was over I thought to myself that no one makes movies like this anymore.
When Malignant ended I said to myself, no one makes movies like this anymore.
Looks like they still do.
If The Suicide Squad was James Gunn’s Troma movie than this was James Wan’s Full Moon Feature.