The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.
“Malignant” was not only one of the most polarizing horror films of 2021, it was one of the most polarizing 2021 films in general. There were critics and fans who called it a horror classic and one of the best horror films they’ve seen in quite a while. You also had an audience which absolutely hated the film and thought it was laughably silly. I thought it was one of the most entertaining, graphic, and in-your-face films of this past year. It reminded me a lot of a David Cronenberg film with its use of imagery, especially during some of the later scenes, which I don’t want to go into great detail about because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
Our film opens with a pregnant woman named Madison Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis) coming home from a long day of work to an abusive husband watching UFC on TV. He ends up banging her head against the wall in a fit of rage when he finds out she is not feeling too well. They have had a couple of miscarriages in the past, and he is abusing her as though it is her fault. Things, however, take an even more dramatic turn for the couple when her husband, Derek (Jake Abel), ends up dead in brutal fashion. The two detectives on the case, played by George Young and Michole Briana White, first look at it as a home invasion where the husband died and the woman suffered some major injuries. However, Madison doesn’t remember anything about a home invasion or what happened that night.
She turns to her sister, Sydney (Maddie Hasson), to help her figure out exactly what is going on. Things are taken up another notch when more and more people end up dead, and Madison is able to see and experience them as if she is there for the murder, even though she’s at home. Detective Kekoa Shaw (George Young) is very curious about the case and believes the sisters when they say something is amuck. He’s not afraid to look into it and investigate it while his partner, Regina Moss (Michole Briana White), thinks the two sisters are not making a lot of sense. However, before long, it’s not hard to see a connection between Madison and all of the murders.
“Malignant” is a film which relies on a big twist in the third act. A lot of people said they saw the twist coming. When I’m engrossed in a film, I tend not to spend a lot of time trying to figure out the result. I’m more focused on what is happening and letting it unfold for me before my eyes. I’ve seen this film twice now: once on HBO Max and now on Blu-ray. The first time I watched it, I found it a little slow-moving, tedious and, at times, quite dull. The third act, however, saved the film for me. I remember looking at my wife after the amazing third act and saying, “I need to watch this movie again. That ending blew me away!”
On a second viewing, the first half made a lot more sense to me, perhaps because I knew what was going to happen and how it was going to end. This is a film which is only going to get better with multiple viewings. I truly believe it is going to be a cult-classic for decades to come because of how balls-to-wall and brutally bloody and gory it is. With that being said, this is a smart, well-made and well-acted horror movie. It’s also a smart look at PTSD, trauma, how we handle it, and how our thoughts can control us. There is a lot underneath the surface of “Malignant” and a whole lot to like.
James Wan, director of “Saw,” “The Conjuring”, “Insidious,” and “Furious 7” to name a few, has shown he has a great eye behind the camera. This might be his most ambitious film to date which is saying something considering he directed “Aquaman.” He goes for broke and does not disappoint. As I mentioned earlier, I had a whole new appreciation for this film on a second viewing. The emotional aspects are incredibly powerful and work in the world of a horror film. Wan has always known how to create drama and real characters in a horror movie that you care about and root for from start to finish. I can’t wait to watch it again and again. It’s a true work of art.
* * * * out of * * * *
Blu-Ray Info: “Malignant” is released on a single-disc Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It also comes with a digital code of the film. The film has a running time of 111 minutes and is rated R for strong horror violence, gruesome images, and language.
Video/Audio Info: This comes on a 1080p High-Definition transfer. The audio formats are DTS-HD MA: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: English Descriptive Audio, French, and Spanish. Subtitles are included in English, French, and Spanish.
Malignant: James Wan’s Visions
Should You Buy It?
YES, YES, and YES!!! The major bummer is the fact there is only one fourteen-minute special feature on this Blu-ray. I would have loved an audio commentary with director James Wan. I’ve listened to his commentaries on some of his previous films, and he never fails to entertain and inform the audience. This is the only blemish on this release: one tiny special feature. However, if you are looking at the stand-alone film, this is a great one to pick up for the horror fan in your life. They will not be disappointed by the final product. I understand the polarizing nature of the film based on reviews from both critics and audiences alike. However, I think “Malignant” is a horror masterpiece. The jail scene took my breath away. The way it’s shot with wall-to-wall action is simply outstanding. The way he takes his time in building up to the finish is exceptional. This film is only going to get better the more you watch it. You should take a chance on it. You won’t regret it.
**Disclaimer** I received a Blu-ray copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.