Malignant ★★★★

I’ve never quite warmed up to James Wan’s films outside of Fast & Furious 7. His stuff is sometimes populist to a fault; he leans in on conventions that audiences recognize and  enjoy, and frees us from emotional connections with characters who are so naive and boneheaded as to defy reality. 

But the righteous thing about Wan is you can always hear him laughing during every single gag, behind the camera and in the edit suite. He’s no revolutionary but his craft is wild. I used to dislike how he’d swing a stabilized camera everywhere with super wide lenses so he doesn’t have to worry much about key lighting or focus mishaps. After Malignant though? I was wrong.

Wan will push the camera through a peephole with a great whoosh, or include a shot of our lead from inside a fucking clothes drier. The story feels rote for a bit there in the middle though the gore effects are stellar. But then the last half hour happens and boy howdy, the last half hour is incorrect in the head. It’s overloaded with wildly silly twists and martial arts battles and borderline dance theater. Incredible. Friends keep trying to bring me around to Aquaman for basically all the above reasons—I might be getting there.

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