A cool thing about MALIGNANT is that the trailers made it look like the new movie from James Wan, the director of INSIDIOUS and THE CONJURING, when it’s actually the new movie from James Wan, the director of INSIDIOUS, THE CONJURING and AQUAMAN. After you direct Dolph Lundgren on a seahorse you’re not content to just do a fuckin demon possession or haunted house for your next horror movie. You gotta go further.

I feel a little out of step for not loving all of Wan’s movies. In my CONJURING 2 review I wrote, “Like all of Wan’s ghost movies, I started out thinking ‘This is one of the most effective ghost movies I’ve seen!’ and ended thinking ‘I guess I just don’t really like ghost movies that much.’” They’re extremely well directed and I have a bunch of nice things to say about them, but I guess that genre just doesn’t do it for me. (And I’m still uncomfortable that the great CONJURING protagonists are based on real life charlatans who never face accountability for their lifetime of exploitation.)

So I’ve always been in the weird position of being more into Modern Master of Horror James Wan’s occasional non-horror movies. FURIOUS SEVEN, of course, and I love AQUAMAN, and it was DEATH SENTENCE that really turned me into a fan. I still think that’s a brilliant and under-recognized version of the “vigilante revenge is not as great as it sounds” story, with some really original and well-executed action sequences, and Kevin Bacon giving a full-hearted dramatic performance unhindered by the pulpiness around him.

In Wan’s first film since AQUAMAN (2018) and first horror film since THE CONJURING 2 (2016) he combines those well-honed horror chops with what he learned from making a movie with an octopus in warpaint playing FURY ROAD drums, and I’m so happy to finally be fully on board a James Wan horror joint. MALIGNANT is a keeper.

It begins with a frenzied prologue: mayhem in a spooky hospital, something to do with someone named Gabriel who’s “getting stronger” and “becoming more malicious,” keeps trying to escape, and can control machines and broadcast his thoughts over the intercom. Thoughts like “I WILL KILL YOU ALL.” So they decide “It’s time we cut out the cancer!”

The dialogue and performances in this scene are so campy I thought to myself, “Why can they never do a horror-movie-within-a-horror-movie opening fake out that doesn’t telegraph that it’s a horror-movie-within-a-horror-movie opening fake out?” And then the credits started and realized no, that’s just the actual movie! That might sound like a pretty harsh insult, but I mean it as a compliment. You don’t expect a big slick studio horror movie to be this tonally unhinged.

Still, it pretends to be pretty normal for a while. We meet Madison (Annabelle Wallis, X-MEN FIRST CLASS, THE MUMMY [the good one {sorry <not sorry>}], KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD, BOSS LEVEL, looking like an Angelina Jolie stunt double), a very pregnant Seattle woman who comes home from her late shift early because of stomach pain, which does not go over well with her shitty husband Derek (Jake Abel, THE LOVELY BONES), because he wants to watch MMA in the bedroom. Trigger warning: This fucker hits her. Schadenfreude warning: While she takes a nap this fucker’s body will be bent and twisted into impossible configurations.

So we got a mystery on our hands. Someone is killing people, many of them connected to that hospital from the prologue. Could be this “Gabriel,” who could be a ghost, a dark half, a split personality, we don’t really know. But Madison keeps having visions where her surroundings peel away and she finds herself at the scenes of these murders. The killer is a slim, long-haired person in a fancy goth coat, with bizarre movements and a talent for slashing with a dagger he forges from a trophy stolen from one of the victims. Sometimes he talks over radios or phones in a creepy voice and sometimes he has a weird monster face.

Most of what I’ve described so far isn’t too far from a mainstream type of horror, and it’s really in the last act, when all is revealed about what the fuck is going on, that it explodes into glorious lunacy. But even in this semi-normal stretch there are bits of oddballness, like the jokes about various women being nervous around dreamy Detective Kekoa Shaw (George Young, A BREAD FACTORY: PARTS 1 & 2) or Madison’s actress sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson, GOD BLESS AMERICA) refusing to believe that the police don’t work with psychics because she once played one on a cop show. A great example of the heightened world this takes place in is when Madison has one of her visions and tells the police it happened “across the street from the Silvercup Apartments in north Beacon Hill.”

Maybe it makes no sense for her to be familiar with a random apartment building by name, and maybe it makes no sense the reason she knows the name is that it is written in giant light-up letters on the roof. But especially it makes no sense that those letters saying SILVERCUP are clearly a reference to Silvercup Studios in New York, a former bakery turned film and TV production studio that I know about because it’s the roof where McLeod fights the Kurgan at the end of HIGHLANDER.

I guess there are a few parallels – the killer’s weapon is like a sword, Highlanders absorb electricity, one other thing that’s a vague spoiler – but it still seems kind of random. SILVERCUP was even MALIGNANT’s working title, and I don’t get that. But thank you to Al Tran, who pointed me to Wan’s Facebook page, where HIGHLANDER director Russell Mulcahy brought it up himself and Wan called it a tribute to his fellow Aussie director. So that much is confirmed.

Let me describe another little thing that’s maybe less weird but also shows the kind of movie we’re dealing with. As they begin to uncover Madison’s mysterious past, Sydney traces her history to the hospital where the prologue took place. It is, of course, a towering monstrosity perched on a rocky ledge over the ocean, like a haunted house. And it’s closed, but left intact, so that she can break in and dig through files in cobwebbed basement archive. But what I want to call your attention to is that when she arrives, she drives around the building and parks her car a few feet from the edge of the cliff. There’s no guard rail there or anything, and there’s no reason that needs to be the place to park, but she just does it, and doesn’t seem to notice. I love it.

It has come to my attention that there has been some discussion about how much or how little this is like/inspired by giallo films. It’s not one of those retro pastiches, so honestly I didn’t even think about that while watching it, but in retrospect, yeah, of course it is. Unseen killer, fetishistic black leather gloves, fanciful bladed weapon. And there are Argento/Italian touches like the bold blue and red lighting (I suppose Wan has done that before) and a score by Joseph Bishara that’s more rockin than is currently en vogue. The centerpiece of that is a Safari Riot and Grayson Sanders version of “Where Is My Mind” – it plays like part of the score so I kept thinking, “Doesn’t the score sound like that Pixies song?”

But you’re right, giallo doesn’t normally include supernatural/sci-fi stuff, we know that, let’s move on.

I should address that this movie takes place in Seattle, though it’s not filmed here. There are a few second unit shots to place the cars in actual Seattle and stuff, and of course the requisite drone shot of the Space Needle, but I don’t think the actors are ever seen here. I’m glad it was at least filmed in L.A. – Vancouver has gotten enough work pretending to be us.

I got some chuckles from it because most of the locations make no attempt to resemble Seattle at all, and then it will cut to that second unit footage. They did bother to get a real neighborhood name in there (Beacon Hill) and they do have a good reason to set it here: so that they could have a scary scene in what I have always known as “Underground Seattle,” but apparently the official name is “Seattle Underground.” After the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 it was decided to regrade the streets higher, so businesses were built with bottom floors at the old street level and the alleys between them were eventually covered over with the new streets. At first they kept the subterranean alleys accessible, but it was condemned before the 1909 World’s Fair and abandoned to become opium dens, speakeasies and gambling halls (that must’ve been a hell of a hangout!). Now it’s a tourist attraction, and in the movie one of the guides (Jean Louisa Kelly, AMERICAN SHAOLIN) is abducted by Gabriel while working there. (This is not the first time something like this has happened in these tunnels, as you can see in the documentary below.)

I assume they’re on a set (seems like they’d go deeper into the tunnels if they were really filming there) but it does look pretty accurate to how I remember it when I went on the tour as a kid.

By the way, the tour guide makes some dumb joke about Nirvana and Pearl Jam, which makes sense for tourists, but just so you know, we only listen to Sir Mix-a-Lot and Antifa marching bands here. That was one major oversight, the soundtrack should’ve been all Sir Mix-a-Lot. THE PAPER TIGERS was made by Seattle people, that’s why it opens with a Kid Sensation song.

Another thing people who don’t live in Seattle might not know is that our holding cells are full of women dressed as archetypes from ‘70s and ‘80s movie. So when detectives Shaw and Moss (Michole Briana White, LILA & EVE) finally decide Madison has too many connections to these murders she gets locked up with and bullied by a bunch of tough gals including a woman (Shaunte Lynette Johnson maybe?) with an afro and polyester bellbottom jumpsuit that Foxy Brown could’ve worn and Zoe Bell with a mullet and jean jacket, credited as “Scorpion.” In this movie they’re here to welcome the shift from pretty good kinda odd horror to straight up classic, as the other characters finally piece together what the fuck is going on here and the movie unloads a fantasia of Shit I Did Not Expect To See. Please, I beg you to watch it without spoiling it for yourself, but from here on out it’s time to talk SPOILERS with the people who have seen it.

I love the BASKET CASEness of young Gabriel, monster head and little squiggly arms growing out of the back of his sister. Up to this point I figured we were dealing with some sort of vengeful goth tumor living under Pioneer Square. But no, of course I didn’t guess that they’d just stuffed him back into poor Madison and the killer is him peeking out of the crack in her skull, controlling her body running around backwards. And if I had guessed that of course I would never have dreamed we’d get to see that character – portrayed by talented contortionists and stunt people moving backwards, or with backwards clothes and a mask on the back of their head like that guy in GYMKATA – in a long and thrillingly choreographed action scene spinning, flipping and slicing through everybody at the police station. (I do remember when Gabriel did this, though. It was all over the local news at the time.)

I can’t think of another time I saw a horror movie and it unexpectedly had legit action scenes in it. Quite a bonus. The stunt coordinator is Glenn Foster (Robert Downey Jr.’s long time stunt double) and fight coordinator/assistant stunt coordinator is Loyd Bateman (Gary Daniels’ double in HUNT TO KILL). I expected it was gonna be guys Wan worked with on AQUAMAN, because it reminds me of those fights Nicole Kidman’s character had, meticulously planned and practiced to achieve a quick succession of very heightened, impossible, sometimes FX-assisted moves in continuous shots. (I’m also reminded of Wan-pal Leigh Whannell’s UPGRADE.)

When I reviewed THE CONJURING I debated whether it counted as a “spookablast,” a term Sam Raimi used to describe DRAG ME TO HELL that was briefly adopted by many critics. I determined that no, it was too grounded to be enough of a blast, despite the spookiness. I am happy to report however that MALIGNANT is definitely a spookablast.

I have one minor complaint. There’s plenty of goofy lines and stuff that some people probly say is “bad” but to me is an important part of the whole vibe of the movie. But I do wish we knew something more about Madison’s life before this than trying to have a baby despite an abusive husband. Like, can she at least have a hobby? At the beginning she has come home early from work, but I don’t believe the job is specified or mentioned again. I appreciate that it’s a movie that doesn’t waste a bunch of time fucking around, but I think there was room in there to give her a little more character. Just saying Jessica Chastain’s character in MAMA was a bass player went a long way (though that one fell into the cliche of showing motherhood as the most important thing any woman could do, even if she says otherwise, which this thankfully does not).

The screenplay is by Akela Cooper, who has mostly written for TV shows (Grimm, The 100, Luke Cage) but also did HELL FEST. I enjoyed that one, but this is a step up. Story credit goes to Wan, Cooper and Ingrid Bisu (Wan’s wife, who is also an actress in BLOODRAYNE, TONI ERDMANN and THE NUN – in this she plays the nerdy CST Winnie). MIMIC 3: SENTINEL director J.T. Petty reportedly worked on it at some point too, but he’s not credited.

I did go see MALIGNANT in a theater, which I loved, but I can’t say it was a communal experience because there was only one other person in there, and if he was laughing like I was I didn’t hear him. It seems this can’t possibly make back the $40 million they spent on it, because they released it during a pandemic while you could also watch it for free on Home Box Office Maximum. That’s a shame if it prevents us from getting a sequel where Gabriel the Backwards-Walking Tumor Highlander is a known quantity from frame 1. I’d love if it paid off the tour guide’s line about “rumors of passages stretching for miles.”


Still, there ended up being something special about it coming out this way, because so many more people watched it right away and were able to be excited about it at the same time. People who probly wouldn’t have given it a chance or would’ve waited for video saw it while it was fresh. I’ve also heard of many people seeing it in the theater and then rewatching it at home (which I will probly do myself).

And it just makes me so proud as a Seattleite that our pantheon of local heroes can include Jimi, Bruce, Kurt, Sue Bird & Megan Rapino, and now Parasitic Gabriel. Maybe relatives will start calling to make sure we didn’t get slashed by a backwards person instead of to see if we’re safe from anarchist riots.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 at 12:30 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

66 Responses to “Malignant”

  1. Oh wow I just wrote a comment about this on Shang chi hoping you would review it too. And the research here confirms that I was wrong. I really thought Brad Allen had some form of contribution to this before he died I’m not sure what deja vu or glitch made me think that was fact but either way the choreographed scenes in this movie made me love it. I kept thinking the same thing you were in that it had to be a fake movie within a movie in the beginning, only to realize it was the fake movie the whole time. Like one of those grindhouse trailers but in it’s full form. It’s hard for me to even hate this movie because I love what James Wan was going for. In that, he made a so bad it’s good movie but done so well that it can’t be all bad because it was done on purpose. All the music cues, the shots of the house being reused, the cops being almost useless in every situation following the murder, the sister going to a scary mental closed down mental institution by herself and then cutting it to her making it back home safe, and the Falls!! Oh man the falls in this we’re just too funny. It’s just so over the top in it’s overt the topness that is almost genius. Like a parody movie you’d want to make with your friends only in James wan’s style. I don’t even know where this falls but I’m just going to have it as his attempt at making a comedy. Also, I don’t know why but the jail scene kinda reminded me of the nic cage scene from ghost rider but a bloodier female version.

  2. For some reason my social media bubble is way more excited about it than any of the other pandemic releases, so even if they were at times a bit more spoilery that I liked, I can’t wait to be able to check it out.

    That said: I wish more people would’ve mentioned A CURE FOR WELLNESS in the conversation. I don’t know how tonally similar that one is (I would say from what I’ve heard, MALIGNANT is way more fun and straight-faced absurd than the brooding CURE), but this was also a movie that was heavily inspired by the gladly-sacrifices-logic-for-atmosphere-and-weirdness European horror of yesteryear. It is sadly 20 minutes too long, but that’s in the middle, so it’s easy to forgive and all in all it’s too bad that even the horror community already forgot about it.

  3. Where did you hear that J.T. Petty worked on this? I was a big advocate for him back in the day, always wondered what happened to him.

    Have you seen Dead Silence? I’d quality this with Dead Silence and Insidious as the spookablastiest films in his oeuvre. These and Sentence are his best.

  4. I loved this film. Its just so wonderfully batshit crazy, quietly at first before going full-on insane. Its such a fun exploitation film of the old school with its nods to Gaillo and exploitation. Like you I have not been much of a Wan fan before.

    One influence that I haven’t see brought up so much is DePalma in his more crazy films like Sisters (crazy conjoined twins leading to murder and odd side characters) and Raising Cain (crazy family pasts, eccentric cops and an experienced director going full-on I don’t give a shit I wanna see this.)

    This one is getting bought and will have a lot of rewatches.

  5. Yes, Peter Campbell, I also thought of RAISING CAIN when I was watching this. Both films have that high-camp quality but without irony, if that makes sense. Clearly, Wan knows this is campy, but the characters don’t , which is as it should be. The whole gothic medical / psychiatric / identity intrigue going on here is very RAISING CAIN, for sure. That and DEAD SILENCE are going on my halloween easons watch list!

  6. Sadly I did not love this film like Vern. A big problem for me was that I guessed the twist pretty darn early on.


    The physicality is what gave it away for me. Madison is skinny with brown hair; Gabriel is skinny with brown hair. Okay, we’re clearly in some sort of ‘twins’ scenario here. But then the first scene in the attic, after Gabriel kidnaps the Seattle Underground tour guide, they make a point of showing Gabriel getting dressed and for all the fast cutting, it’s clearly a woman. Then after the Silvercup murder, where Gabriel is explicitly shown to be a bloody face guy who stabs his victim backwards, it was a quick hop skip & jump to — Madison has a bloody back of head, there’s gotta be a face back there.

    So then I spent the rest of the movie (which is not short) waiting for the movie to acknowledge what I already knew, and during that time it became really clear that the movie didn’t have much else to offer beyond the central mystery. Yes, I appreciated those same touches Vern did — the sister parking her car right at the edge of the cliff was fun — but there simply weren’t enough of those touches to keep things interesting. I think Vern called out all the actual good jokes in the movie, and what was left over was — for me — pretty boring.

    Ultimately, and it saddens me to write this, I was disappointed in Wan (who I think is very talented, and F7 is my personal favorite of the F&F movies) because I thought he made some bad directorial choices in this one. The first & biggest for me was in how he translated the basic concept of the backwards killer from the page to the screen. On paper it’s pretty cool, but onscreen it’s silly in a way that didn’t feel intentional to me. (Closeups of feet marching backwards is never going to be scary no matter what Joe Bishara music goes on top, IMO.) Given that a certain silliness is inescapable at a physical level, it seems like solution — and my second biggest problem with it is that they didn’t do this — was to shift the tone more towards ‘fun’ to acknowledge it so the audience is laughing WITH instead of laughing AT. And we can debate how much the movie was or wasn’t trying to be spookablast, but for me it needed to be much spookablastier than it was. Even the sequence where Gabriel goes apeshit in the jail cell / police station suffered from the execution trying to be too serious. For example, think of the kind of gags Raiders-era Spielberg worked into his fight scenes. There weren’t any gags or clever moments that indicated the filmmakers thought that ‘backwards killer’ was anything less than totally terrifying, which is where they & I part ways.

  7. Everybody can relax: I liked it. I may eventually love it. The only thing holding it back on first watch was, like Vern, I thought the tone of the opening scenes (followed by the not-even-trying-to-hide-it fakeness of the following scenes) indicated much more a metaphysical type switcheroo than what we actually got, so I wasted valuable mind-grapes during the first two-thirds thinking about shit that ended up having no bearing on the actual plot. Wan wasn’t trying to establish a phony baloney reality to set up a twist; that’s just the way Wan wanted it. The cops aren’t acting like rejects from a 90s cop procedural that got cancelled after six episodes because they’re actually NPCs in an alternate reality Gabriel constructed out of old movies and TV shows (I had some THEORIES, you guys) but just because it’s fun and why the hell not? So I hope on next watch I can enjoy the loopiness of the first two-thirds of the movie on its own terms and not be waiting for the other shoe to drop like I was this time.

    Once the reveal happened, though, I was in. I’m not quite as impressed by the action itself as you guys are but I just love that it’s there at all. A horror movie that actually wants to show me something? Something that’s not just atmosphere and hallways? Where have you fuckin’ been all my life, handsome?

    So you were right, Vern. This might not be my perfect recipe for gonzo horror batshittery, but it is like 17 steps in the right direction. If the new ripoff trend stopped being boring assholes standing in fields and grieving for two and a half hours and became SPOILER kung fu psychic brain tumor backwards evil twin slasher movies END SPOILER, I certainly won’t complain.

  8. I also see comparisons being made here to RAISING CAIN, which is one of my favorite De Palma films, and I think the comparison is instructive for illustrating my precise problem with MALIGNANT. Whether John Lithgow is twins or not (since that movie wants us to question the mystery for much of the story) doesn’t affect that the movie is wildly entertaining throughout — the sequence where Lolita Davidovitch gets impaled with the phallic whatchamacalit, for instance, is both cool & ridiculous in equal proportions, and acknowledges its own outrageousness (just when you’re about to call bullshit on how implausible it is, it’s revealed to be a dream). The cool/ridiculous proportions in MALIGNANT, for me, don’t achieve a happy balance. The backwards fighting is impressive from a “that must have been hard to choreograph” standpoint, but that doesn’t stop it from looking silly. And since the movie doesn’t want to acknowledge its own silliness it left me feeling like this was unintentional.

    Also all the terrible acting didn’t help. Say what you will about Lithgow’s performance (it is terrible in many ways), he commits to it 1000% and, in doing so, creates something interesting. By contrast, the majority of the performances in this are soap opera-level bland. (The actor who plays Madison is the exception, I have to give props to her for what had to be an unbelievably difficult role to perform both emotionally & physically.) The older, chubby Doctor with the line about “It’s like Gabriel is drinking the electricity” — seriously? Why cast an actor that wooden instead of someone who can hit more of a spookablast tone? Sure, you can defend it as “so bad it’s good,” but to me it’s just so bad, it’s actually bad. To transcend badness, in my book, requires more than just not being good. Either commit to being over-the-top, like Lithgow, or actually be good. For all its potential, and despite occasional moments, MALIGNANT, for me, too often fails to transcend its badness.

  9. Being a huge De Palma fan, I definitely see where you’re coming from, Daniel. I wonder myself if the movie would go from like to love for me with a bolder style of artificiality to its performances. I think it might. But I suspect Wan’s strategy here was to lull the normal CONJURING crowd into thinking they were watching a normal, bland horror movie so they’d be gobsmacked by the lunacy at the end. And maybe that worked for them, I don’t know. And maybe it would actually become a diminishing returns thing if the camp were dialed up in the early goings instead of rumbling just below the surface. I’m eager to see the film again just to see how the tone reads with the big picture in mind.

  10. Rowland – I got the J.T. Petty info from Wikipedia. Their citation for that bit did not actually mention him, but I found him listed in other articles from before the credits were finalized, including this one:


  11. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER I’ve had that problem of figuring out twists way too early (MATCHSTICK MEN comes to mind) and I think of myself as pretty imaginative, but for better or worse I do not have the type of brain that could guess “oh, this is gonna be one of those ‘mutant twin pokes out of the back of her skull sometimes and runs around backwards slaughtering the entire Seattle police force with contortionist martial arts’ movies.”

  12. For more Seattle Underground fun, watch the sequel to the Night Stalker tv movie , the Night Strangler. It’s been a long time since I last saw it, so I don’t remember the ratio of actual location footage compared to Universal backlot, but there was definitely some and it was pretty cool.

  13. Mr. Majestyk — I’m also a huge De Palma fan. He’s my favorite director because his sensibilities for balancing art & schlock are often (though not always) in tune with what I want to see. So to some degree any movie being compared to a classic De Palma film will inevitably fall short for me, and I don’t mean to fault MALIGNANT for not being De Palma. But my suspicion is that because it doesn’t have the same command of tone, it might not yield as much pleasure on rewatches, but I could be wrong. Time will tell, of course.

    Vern – I hope I didn’t sound like a smarmy smarty pants for figuring it out. I just meant to illustrate that once I knew what was going on plot-wise, I had more time to look around at scenery, so to speak, and found it kinda disappointing.

  14. I will confess that this film already has a lot in its favor coming in: Major studio, decent budget and production values, stylish, handsome, different, weird, not up-its-own-ass-show-offy weird, fun, confident, not a franchise reboot or wannabe “universe” in waiting. That’s a lot of goodwill. I like the giallo elements more than most giallo films I’ve watched, so, it helps me appreciate those more. I like the gothic horror atmosphere and tropes. The lead is appealing. I like how Seattle is kind of a character vs. the non-descriptness. It is stylized and otherwordly in a way that feels cinematic — I like that it lacks the verite and goes for more the opposite direction. In a word, it’s different from a lot of what’s on offer out there. Indeed, it’s different, period. There are plenty of elements and influences that it borrows or homages (e.g., Argento, some of the Hammer stuff, DePalma, Cronenberg, etc.)It’s coming from a major studio and has the good production values and decent budget that come with that. It’s handsome and stylish and does a good job blending the giallo with the more traditional gothic elements. It is self-consciously unpretentious and , fun, but there aren’t a lot of films like it.

  15. Peter Campbell – the overhead shots and a lot of the more stylized cinematography really did remind me of the DePalma thrillers trying to ape Hitchcock so yeah he came to mind almost immediately.

    I’m not a James Wan fan. Well at least I wasn’t. I wasn’t impressed with DEATH SENTENCE like many others here were and I felt I only liked AQUAMAN and his F&F despite his involvement because of my affection for those properties before those movies even existed. I saw SAW (ha ha) way back when and really disliked it so I never bothered with any of his other horror joints up until this one. They never interested me especially INSIDIOUS and the ventriloquist dummy movie which had tremendously generic trailers even for something so played.

    I had no idea what this movie even was. I saw a banner for it on my smart tv after catching up with that Wu-Tang Hulu show and really liked the black and red motif of the poster art so I said “fuck it”. Man as soon as I saw a hospital on a cliff straight out of a Hammer movie I was like “interesting”. Then we got “he’s controlling electricity”, “he’s broadcasting his thoughts” and I was like “man this really nails the schlocky 80s horror vibe here lets see where it goes”.

    I liked the music early in the movie it was pretty atmospheric but the score did lose it’s place sadly. The set design and overall production design was also up my alley like I said that opening shot with the spooky looking hospital on the cliff was love at first sight. Then the house itself looking like a run down piece of shit I’d never even consider walking into not just in the fog but in the daylight was pretty charming. I didn’t like the drab look of the interior though until we got that one overhead shot that sold it for me. Plus one other thing that kept me watching was the killer’s control of the electricity. It reminded me of Wes Craven’s SHOCKER especially with the protagonist having dream visions of what the killer is up to. At that point I did deduce “ok so the killer is some relative”.

    I was taken aback by the SILVERCUP sign. I passed by those studios every single work day prior to the pandemic and like Vern automatically associate it with the climatic battle from HIGHLANDER. For a moment there I thought “whoa they had a bakery in seattle too? and that was turned into an apartment complex?” so thanks for the clarification Vern. I found the first use of Where is my Mind? kind of cringey. I let it slide though because I figured it takes place in Seattle and Seattle’s own Kurt Cobain was a massive Pixies fan maybe it’s another homage like so many other ones the movie had already flexed up to that point.


    Now I had thought I saw the killer’s elbows pointing forward earlier on but also thought it might’ve been something I thought I saw but wasn’t really there since it was really late and I was pretty high. Then the SILVERCUP murder happened. That was clearly a contorted body committing that act. Then I really noticed “hmmm same hair as the protagonist?” also she kept bleeding from the back of the head, the movie has the on the nose title malignant and the “face?” she saw was tumor-esque. At that point I was like “hold up if this is a tumor from the back of her head that somehow detached, gained sentience, grew a body around it and has a psychic bond with the protagonist this is officially the movie of the year.”

    I got even more excited when Where is my Mind? came back and I was like “the tumor is also blacking out her brain making her mind just wander psychically this makes no sense but at least it’s original as fuck”. Well the twist wasn’t quite that but a lot more FIGHT CLUB than I expected so that music still made sense plus I was half right the killer did black out her mind. As tired as the evil twin trope is I’m so glad like everyone else that they went BASKET CASE with it just with the normal twin actually being well intentioned. As someone who loves that kind of shit it wasn’t the twist I wanted but it was the one I deserved.

    The biggest revelation though was Wan actually getting an emotional response from me. I hated DEATH PROOF but like everyone else felt completely terrible for Zoe Bell in that and really was dreading every minute of it when she was on the hood of that car. This movie conversely made me want to see her get her comeuppance so bad and even though I was disappointed by how mild it seemed in the end the journey there when Gabriel was going all V for Vendetta on the rest of that jail cell’s walking stereotypes from another era was kind of exhilarating. Also to callback on that scene where the sister parks the car that reminded me of those old car commercials that emphasized the bright as moon in the background with the parked car in the foreground lost in the wilderness. That shit was pretty awesome stylistically. Also the whole mindscape scene with Gabriel going all “I’ll get you next time Gadget” while holding literally prison bars and the sister basically being “next time I know what to expect” fuck yeah man this is the type of self indulgent cheese a lot of self serious modern horror has kinda lacked. That was some Sean S. Cunningham shit right there.

    I can’t believe I’ve typed so much about this stupid ass movie but as dumb as it was it was also charming as fuck. As an 80s horror kid especially this just hit all the right angles especially with having the balls to go high concept with the schlock. I actually am now all in on James Wan horror. Better late than never I guess and even though I don’t plan on watching any of his past horror shit I will always give any new one a chance to see if he ever goes insane enough to top this idiosyncratic instant cult classic. This was a pleasant surprise and unironically the first new horror since THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, IT FOLLOWS and the original DON’T BREATHE to really resonate with me albeit for completely different reasons but I’ll take what I can get. This was genuinely a pleasant surprise and definitely one of the best things you will find on HBO Max right now if you’re of the right frame of mind.

  16. Also I will say I did end up getting psyched out. During the very last “vision”. I was like “whoa this movie just ended up being nihilistic as hell” and actually felt like it was setting up a sequel. But no. The goofy shit we did get was fun though and to be honest less open ended which is nice cause I really don’t want to see this get a sequel. I like to think she did the right thing and was expressing what she did to her sister as a goodbye cause she was ready to be responsible and do her time since “it was my body all along”. I don’t need that ruined for me. So I’m kinda glad it’s flopping for that reason at least but it still does deserve more eyes on it. I really didn’t emphasize my appreciation of the body horror. It’s one of my favorite sub genres. Seriously at the age of 5 I legit asked to be taken to the first movie I ever saw in a theater THE FLY II because I was such a massive fan of the original. Body horror always tickles my fancy when done right and Gabriel really didn’t let me down. The VHS tape with the wiggling arms on the back of that poor girl was freakin A+. I also really dug the toy phone she had with the creepy ring tone. When I saw TOY STORY 3 and there was a similar toy where it would only creepily communicate through the headset I thought “whoa that would be a kinda cool gimmick in a horror flick” all these years later James Wan of all people delivered on that idea. It was serviceable kid acting too. Normally that can take you out of these kinda movies. I’m now looking forward to seeing that kid bust some heads in a spiritual sense of course this November.

  17. There were moments here and there where this reached the arched-eyebrow theatricality it was going for. Visually, Wan got things right. I liked the cliffside hospital. I liked the CGI-assisted shot that looks down on the house from high above while Madison scurries from floor to floor. But anytime people are talking, it’s like outtakes from Garth Marenghi.


    So okay, yeah, I guessed the twist really early. Besides all the tells that Daniel mentions, Wallis is in a ridiculous wig that looks exactly like the killer’s hair. But the entire movie is built towards that reveal. The action scenes are put off till the film’s almost over, because putting them earlier would expose the twist. The monster never makes creative use of its electrical powers, because they’re just a plot device that lets the killer communicate without exposing the twist. Wouldn’t things be more fun if they showed us what was going on a half-hour into things, instead of having a monster movie where they can’t really show you the monster and can’t have it threaten the main characters?

    There’s like 80 minutes of dull investigation, broken up by quick scenes of characters we barely remember getting stabbed in the chest. If this were an actual giallo there’d be a dozen eccentric minor characters to keep things interesting, but it’s not and there aren’t. Is a good ending really worth all the sludge that comes before?

  18. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER. THIS IS AN ENDINGS SPOILER. I’m so curious about this. When you say that you guessed the twist, do you mean that she was the killer, or do you mean that the twin was stuffed into her head and can peek out and control her body to run around backwards?

  19. It’s funny watching this, I thought man this would’ve played on MONSTERVISION back in the day on TNT in all of its (in censored to cable standards hell) glory. I even amused myself thinking of what Joe Bob Briggs’ humorous drive-in totals would’ve been…

    No need to imagine anymore, He reviewed MALIGNANT! (It’s free btw)

    And yes, his drive-in totals gave me the laugh I needed today.


    I also guessed the broad contours of the twist pretty early on. Not that I’m terribly clever or anything, but I had just read The Dark Half earlier this summer and one of my favorite X-Files episodes has a pretty similar premise. That combined with a lot of the medical documentation stuff they show in the credits tipped it off for me. That said, I still enjoyed it a lot! It really is the movie-length version of a fake movie you’d see teens watching in a ‘90s slasher.

  21. As for this movie itself, yeah I’m glad to see locals notice the DePalma DNA in this cake though Fulci feels like another major influence especially in the “fuck the logic, it’s a cool/memorable shot/scene” mentality and bringing buckets of blood with him. Though points deducted for using CGI blood squibs, boo.

    This reminds me of something somebody associated with Marvel Studios had mentioned about trying to “Honest Trailers-proof” themselves and I’m like, this is the opposite: this is Wan daring those YouTuber fucks to go after him. People on Twitter pointing to that cliff parking scene as proof this movie is bad? Yeah you folks aren’t being clever. Wan is laughing at you.

    This is really good, though the experience (thanks to going in stone cold) and being played mystery-wise exactly as Wan aspired to was part of the fun. It’s nice to have a nasty surprise like this again, makes us video store generation nostalgic for that era when we checked horror movies out because it had a cool cover or because somebody’s cousin told us it was cool and we enjoyed them, sometimes because more of how insane/memorable they might be than necessarily they’re great.

    Mr. Majestyk – I laughed at the “standing in a field” line because it’s true. I’ve seen fans calling this the anti-“Elevated Horror” movie. I’ve got nothing against HEREDITARY and those ilk since alot of them are well-made and can feature great acting, but (1) Jesus fucking christ those navel-gazing films ooze arrogance, as if the directors think they’re as good* as they think with general contempt for the general and (2) championed seemingly by the sort of snobs who have no use for horror, desperate to segregate their own corner of respectable horror they can say they enjoyed in public.

    *=LIGHTHOUSE though I thought was as good as it believed itself to be.

  22. If you guys could try to judge A24-type movies on their actual merits instead of extra-cinematical shit like who you think it’s aimed at or if somebody said it was “elevated” then I would be willing to rewatch CABIN IN THE WOODS to find out if I was too hard on it because I was mad that people were calling a comedy “the best horror movie since SCREAM.”

  23. Vern: The latter. I didn’t know it was going to turn into an action movie — that was a nice surprise! But all the rest of it.


    I guess another clue is that she has a massive bleeding head wound, but nobody ever seems to examine it or want to talk about it.

  24. This “elevated horror” discussion is striking close to home, because my favourite horror movie of the last few years is SAINT MAUD (which I think A24 distributed in the States) and I’m down on this one. But believe me, I wanted to love it. If it had actually captured the feel of Sam Raimi or early Peter Jackson, no one would be happier than me.

    Are there really any prominent critics who love artsy slow-burn horror and hate the genre otherwise? Do these people exist?

  25. Was very much looking forward to this review! I, too, am not as enamored of the Conjuring movies as the rest of the general public, and the first act of MALIGNANT felt much the same to me. Clunky dialogue, stilted acting, generic horror spookiness. The tone was off– I could not tell if it was supposed to be campy or not– whereas something like AQUAMAN was very similar but seemed like it knew exactly what it was, or had the actors pitching it just slightly more on-key. But MALIGNANT is a movie which puts its foot down on the accelerator and doesn’t let up, even as it crashes through fruit stands and orphanages and drives off cliffs, etc. Loved the delightfully unhinged third act. I think this one starts as your “standard” Wan horror with a tinge of J-horror, then segues into a giallo, then goes full Ozploitation by the end.

    A bunch of random-ass thoughts, some of which are probably SPOILERY SPOILERS:

    1. They could’ve called THIS movie The Dark Backward. I did notice in the chase scene that Gabriel appeared to be a backwards-person, which led me most of the way to the reveal before they showed it, but I loved how over-the-top they went with it.
    2. Also, Madison should’ve been called Janice.
    3. I dug all the little cameos throughout– Paula Marshall, Zoe Bell, and Conjuringverse alumni McKenna Grace and Madison Wolfe.
    4. I didn’t twig the Silvercup thing– but light streaming through a slowly-rotating fan made me think of Mulcahy.
    5. I need like four or five sequels to this. Speaking of Aussie thrillers, I’d happily watch MALIGNANT 2: GABRIEL VS PATRICK. Or even just a sequel about the inevitable trial and media circus as folks try to figure out how the hell to deal with the insane events of this film. Or one where Madison and Gabriel team up to fight another Malignant.

  26. Oh shit Bill, you’re right – I should’ve caught the fan thing, I bet that really is a Mulcahy reference!

    Also it would be great if Gabriel testifies in the trial.

  27. “Your Honor, I was at a family barbecue…”

  28. “Now I admit my state of mind has been a bit backwards lately…”

  29. Loved It, Loved It, Loved It.




    If they do a sequel, maybe explore the hospital more, because from context clues and just the way they went about everything, there seems to be more to that place than just helping kids. Also maybe look into if the biological father has something about him that’s caused this stuff.

  30. Bill Reed- Yeah, Gabriel should be called to testify in that trial.

  31. Not the biggest fan of the Horror Genre, with even it’s most vaunted entries to me amounting to 70 minutes of blue-balling (or in the case of MIDSOMMAR, 70 weeks) for a pay-off of less than 5 mins of genuine shocks.

    But I liked this. The nicest twist for me was expecting the Wan of THE CONJURING and INSIDIOUS, and instead getting the Wan of SAW with a dash of DEATH SENTENCE Wan especially in the climactic scenes. And it’s paced like a rocket!

  32. See, this is why I hate fucking “elevated horror.” Because it has made people think that’s all horror is: 70 minutes of nothing en route to a letdown.

    It doesn’t have to be like this. Watch RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Starts strong, continues strong, ends strong. No blue balls at any point. You know, like an actual movie that knows it’s audience expects to be entertained for the entire running time. And there’s plenty more where that came from. They just weren’t made in the last decade.

  33. Some of the same people saying that of MIDSOMMAR would say that of HALLOWEEN and THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, which are admittedly shorter but similarly structured. And of course its direct ancestor THE WICKER MAN, which is much more “blue-balling for a pay-off of less than 5 minutes” than MIDSOMMAR is if all you’re looking for is kills.

  34. Going to watch this tonight, finally got some time to sit and watch a flick. This one looks pretty good, I tried to avoid the spoilers but I already know somewhat the twist once I heard somewhere Basket Case. I’m not a giant fan of Midsommar but seems like a weird one to quote in terms of nothing happening until the end, because before the end you see people jump off a cliff and get their brains bashed in, a guy who’s been disembowled, and a few other things like that. It’s like complaining nothing happens in The Haunting except a few spooky noises. These kind of horror flicks have been around forever, whether Rosemary’s Baby, Repulsion, Session 9 or Don’t Look Now.

  35. If I could go back in time to erase THE WICKER MAN from existence so these hipster assholes wouldn’t be able to remake it over and over again, I would do it.

  36. “because before the end you see people jump off a cliff and get their brains bashed in”

    Yeah…that happens somewhere at the half-hour or 40 minute mark…and then fuck all for another 5 hours before..I don’t know, Florence Pugh dances, her BF fucks a woman while a bunch of people cheer him on, then he’s killed, stuffed in a bear and burnt. Unless you, like me, classify true horror as how many times you’re forced to endure Pugh’s emotional breakdowns and mopey face in a single movie, this is ultra-pretentious drivel masquerading as some “Thinking Person’s Horror”. And no, these “kinds” of “horror” flicks haven’t been around forever. No sir, MIDSOMMAR enjoys pride of place and single occupancy in it’s own special box of tasteless baby food being sold to the masses as caviar for the ages. It’s characters evoke not one shred of investment from me, the pacing is atrocious and the WICKER MAN homages, like the god-awful Cage remake, just shit on the original. Wasn’t the greatest fan of this director’s HEREDITARY but at least that film gets a pass for giving me one moment of genuine, spit-your-sandwich horror (Young Girl. Head. Ants!)

    My previous remarks may have made it seem I’m just about kill counts, but genuinely good horror is also about investment in characters amidst an escalating sense of dread. THE OMEN (original) still creeps me out as you helplessly watch decent parents saddled with a spawn of Satan. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON has you desperately wishing for a happy ending for it’s doomed protagonist and his budding romance with a nurse even as you’re horrified at the carnage he wreaks when he turns (+ STILL awesome werewolf transformation scene and the gorgeous Jenny Agutter in the shower). I know WOLF CREEK gets slotted either into an “Ozploitation” or “Serial Killer Thriller” bucket but it’s unrelenting commitment to it’s nihilism evokes genuine horror for me.

    So yeah, there are entries I like, but not enough to convert me into a die-hard fan of the genre.

    And Muh, you’d be doing me a big fucking favor by not mentioning MIDSOMMAR and ROSEMARY’S BABY in the same comment box. Jesus, it’s like putting LETHAL WEAPON and SAMURAI COP in the same sentence. See how awful that is?

  37. This discussion is making me think less of MALIGNANT. It’s starting to seem to me that I’ve vastly overrated the film simply because the horror scene it has arrived in is so impoverished, so starved for imagination and personality that a slightly above average geek show like this one can seem like some kind of gonzo masterpiece. It’s like when SHOOT EM UP came out and action had been in the toilet for so long that for a week or two it seemed like a new classic, but then the genre stepped up its game over the next few years and now it’s barely remembered.

  38. Or maybe I’m just having a bad day. I still need to watch it again to make sure.

  39. If anybody is irritated with folk-horror and also shit that takes a lot of time to go anywhere, may I recommend my favorite work of the entire horror genre (besides E.C. Comics), from a little subgenre I like to call OTH? That stands for Old Time Horror and what it actually means is this one guy’s scary-ass OTR shows, Quiet Please and Lights Out, the guy’s name was Wyllis Cooper.

    They’re all like fifteen minutes long, structurally sound, have interesting characters and are actually scary. None of that lameass M.R. James “then in the scary place where the guy with no personality was walking around a bunch of scary stuff happened in that is so scary I can’t even tell you” nonsense here, either. This is the real shit.


    The Arch Oboler era of Lights Out is good too, and features everybody’s main man Boris Karloff.

    I am probably one of the least horror-oriented readers of this website, but I still got love for the great horror innovators, like Cooper, Shirley Jackson, Jack Kamen, Bernie Wrightston and Vern.

    I’m sure plenty of you horror fiends all know about Cooper’s work, but for those who don’t and enjoy getting spooky I give it my most sincere recommendation.

    This is widely considered to be the best Quiet Please episode, and it is one of the few that does not sound like it was sourced from a scratched-up ass acetate that was salvaged from the bottom of the sea.


  40. Damn KayKay, where did the bad movie touch you?

    I liked Midsommar well enough. Good for a one time watch, I wouldn’t see it numerous times like I have Return of the Living Dead which got mentioned by Mr. Majestyk. But I thought it was effective, and I do think it’s real similar to Rosemary’s Baby except it isn’t grandfathered in so it’s not as acceptible. But what happens in that flick until the end, and THEN WE DON’T EVEN GET TO SEE THE EVIL FUCKIN BABY! Talk about blueballs. It’s didn’t even kill anyone like It’s Alive. I saw that flick and like Midsommar, liked it but don’t need to see it again.

    Now onto THIS flick. Damn I thought it was awesome. Funny that Vern thought it was a fakeout from the start, where I though oh shit they’re going for a crazy 80s-90s vibe. Where a horror flick wasn’t afraid to be heigtened and have blaring music and screaming. I saw people saying they didn’t like it until the third part but I was onboard the while time. Loved the slasher aspect but when it went into full on action movie territory I was in love. It’s funny that a lot of the slow moving ghost movies are clearly trying to act like a James Wan movie and then that fucker comes along and he’s like no now THIS is a James Wan horror flick, come at me now bitches. The backwards creature was fantastic.

    Also Mr. Majestyk, I remember seeing Shoot Em Up back in the day…it wasn’t all that back THEN either, just had the AICN hype. It had some funny crazy stuff but beyond that nothing real interesting. Didn’t even feel like a movie, just a collection of stunt reels. I liked it okay but never felt a need to see it again.

  41. Popping in to highlight A.L.F.’s spotlight on Quiet Please, and specifically, THE THING ON THE FOURBLE BOARD. MALIGNANT had me “what-the-fuck”-ing too, but I’ll long remember stopping dead in my tracks, stupefied at what I was hearing when I listened to that episode of Quiet Please. Truly fuckin’ bizarre and I’ll never forget THAT sound.

  42. Seeing some of the folks in here who want to shit on MIDSOMMAR or THE WICKER MAN makes me feel bad for dissing MALIGNANT. I may have been disappointed in it, but the thought of other people enjoying it doesn’t make me furious.

  43. Muh, all I’ll say is MIDSOMMAR touched me every where I didn’t want to be touched and kept it’s grubby hands there long after any decent interval of appropriateness had passed. Mia Farrow’s haunting performance still stays with me although it’s been well over 2 decades since I last saw ROSEMARY’S BABY. With Horror, which is pretty much predicated on REALLY BAD SHIT HAPPENING TO SOME PEOPLE, I find I need to empathize with at least a character or two for it to work. I mean, if you’re a self-absorbed asshole, do I need to give a shit if you’re roasted alive inside a fucking bear carcass?

    Since SHOOT ‘EM UP somehow entered the conversation…man, I fucking love that movie although I’m not blind to it’s faults. I used to wonder at every re-watch why this sunk into obscurity when JOHN WICK entered the Pop Culture lexicon. Clive Owen at his most Bad-Ass, Monica Belucci at her most ravishing and Paul Giamatti at his Giamatti-est plus a shit-ton of awesome gun-fu. But viewing it a little more objectively, it’s easy to see it’s frequent descent into a type of pervy sleaziness may have put off audiences. Giamatti indulges in a spot of necrophilia, Belucci gives a blow-job next to a dumpster and the catalyst driving the action is a new born infant put through every conceivable form of peril. Plus, yeah some of the action scenes take it beyond the point of absurdity (mid-air gunfights, gun-fighting while having sex etc).

    Still love it though.

  44. I think it’s not just that Shoot Em Up is pervy, the story is literally nothing and if they’re not killing each other it’s not interesting. Villain is a nerd and not even cool. Overly comedic action doesn’t usually work even though I like a lot of the action in that, but on a whole comes off silly.

    The movie’s a lightweight, and came before John Wick and even more importantly, The Raid…which I think Wick owes and absolute debt to (that’s why they had to bring in the guys for part 3 as villains AND NOT KILL THEM). But we’d already seen John Woo before it, and let’s not forget action wasn’t in some deep hole in 2007. We just came off The Matrix flicks, 300, Batman Begins, Troy (lot of people didn’t like it but I loved it and great fights) and Kill Bill. Casino Royale brought back Bond in a big way and we were still getting cool kung flicks with Jet Li in Fearless. Shoot Em Up was a minor player geared toward the AICN set.

  45. It’s just not the real deal. It’s entertaining but it’s a goof. I’m wondering if MALIGNANT might be a bit of the same thing, where I’m so jonesing for a high-test, balls-to-the-wall genre freakout that I’m willing to accept a glossy studio simulacrum as the genuine article. I hope not. I enjoyed those few days where the public at large and I were in agreement that, every now and again, horror can be about something besides boredom and subtext.

  46. BATMAN BEGINS is a really bad example of a shining point in the action genre. The action is the worst thing in it. If we want to talk about movies that really repped the genre well and helped move it forward around that time though then UNDISPUTED II is what you want to bring up.

  47. Broddie, I don’t think the fights in general were good in Batman Begins, but fights were a really small part of that flick. It made Batman a thing again, and of course led to The Dark Knight. But it was a big hit and is an “action” movie, so I’m just saying the genre was fine without Shoot Em Up.

    Undisputed 2 didn’t do much except propel Scott Adkins I guess, who has stayed pretty much as a well respected B-movie guy. I think it’s okay but think it looks cheesy to me, how can I take gritty tough guy fights when they look like Benny Hill? Genuine HK movies were still be released in theatres at that time, I’ll take those…and let’s not forget Sha Po Lang came out a year before anyway and that DID move the genre forward in a real way, I had not seen fights like that before.

    I don’t think Malignant is a goof. It’s heightened and silly, but not in a winking way really. It plays it straight which I like. Just because it has a budget doesn’t keep it from being a weirdo genre flick. I love it when a guy like Wan builds enough cred he gets to just throw some shit at the wall and the studio will suck it up cause they want Aquaman 2.

  48. Equating the fine compositions that were the action scenes in UNDISPUTED II to the slapstick nonsense in Benny Hill. I rarely ever say this but I’ve got no comment. I’ll just leave this thread now and catch up with American Horror Story.

  49. Ha ha Broddie some people think Benny Hill was a genius too!

    Since I just commented on a thread talking about Gold Ninja video that made me think of a movie I got from them that kind of had the same weirdo vibe as this one. It’s a Gothic horror movie and the acting is campy and over the top but after a bit I got into it, and halfway through they start having kung fu battles and the movie just keeps getting weirder and piles it on. Really low budget though but really bloody and lots of surprisingly good action in it. I just thought of it because of this movie, where you kind of know where it’s going but don’t know exactly.

    But goddamn that scene where the backwards killer is taking out the police is exactly the kind of shit I want to see out of movies.

  50. Not everything sped up is Benny Hill, Muh, neither is everything slo-mo John Woo. And since, you, like me, love HK movies, you do acknowledge they were the High Priests of under-cranking right? Decades before Isaac Florentine picked up a camera.

  51. I didn’t generally love it then either, but at least it worked better with small Chinese guys as opposed to big muscular guys. Also I don’t think the choreography is that interesting, it’s like Basic Fight that goes on and on. A lot of generic HK movies were like that too, technically good but kinda dull.

    And to be honest the movie we’re forgetting that actually did leave a real mark on kung in the way this did not, is Ong Bak which was a few years earlier. THAT movie made people take notice.

  52. Really enjoyed this one, but I do wish they had cleared up the central mystery: Just how the heck were Madison and Derek able to afford that house in Seattle?

  53. You know I;ve heard people ask that but it’s funny that they MENTION their jobs, but there’s never an indication of what they are. So for all we know they’re both rich lawyers.

  54. Pretty sure Madison is wearing scrubs in the opening scene.

  55. I was thinking she was wearing those just didn’t go back to look. So probably a nurse. Still, it’s funny how little that mattered. I think at the time I figured it would fit in somewhat, but never did. But even with scrubs she could be a vet, she could be a dental assistant, etc.

  56. I’m late to the party but did anyone else get Darkman vibes from this? Maybe it was all the slow spinning attic fans? This movie does take awhile to get going, and the subpar acting doesn’t help. What also didn’t help is that every female looked alike. My friend asked if they were just passing the same wig around to the entire cast? I thought the killer might hate women with bangs and that was his motivation? But when it started going…Oh boy


    I excitedly grabbed my wife when it came together in my head…”THEY’RE GONNA BASKET CASE US!!” I LOVED the stupid looking puppet covered in goo. A+. I thought the backwards fight scenes looked less cool and more like TikTok dances from the future but fit with the batshit feel of the overall movie. Why is the police station straight out of Burton’s Batman? Who cares!? Why are the women in the super-sized holding pen all dressed like they came from a 70’s costume party? WHO CARES!! TUMOR-FU!!

    As others have said, maybe this will encourage young directors to stop trying to recreate Witchfinder General and start paying homage to The Video Dead!?

  57. The scene with the woman getting grabbed in the underground had my wife & I wondering at first if that was actually Madison, so you weren’t alone there. But when you find out who the character is, it totally makes sense.

    The Darkman comparison is a good one, as that was another pulpy horror movie that never shied away from its more batshit elements, and also ran on sheer kinetic craziness.

  58. Just watched this a couple hours ago. Loved it. I thought the I was close to guessing the twist but I was off just enough to be delighted with the reveal. And I didn’t notice the mullet-haver was Zoe Bell, but I sure did notice the mullet.




    Am I the only one who conceived of a T2 style sequel for this one, wherein Maddy has gained full control of her parasite powers and takes on a rival tumor-twin and/or army thereof? They can even shoehorn in some loveable moppet character she’s got to protect if they really feel like they have to; I trust them. Call it MALIGNANT II: AGE OF CONSENT. With that title, maybe they can toss in a needless, ambiguously recognizable cover of a New Order song this time instead of a Pixies one.

    This isn’t much of a spoiler or very important, but I found Gabriel to be a dead ringer for Johnny The Homicidal Maniac until they showed his face. I mean that in a good way.

    Never would have picked up on the HIGHLANDER riffs, either, but it’s true, huh. “There can be only one…”

  59. So I watched this one again, and it’s still good and definitely a step in the right direction for mainstream horror. I’m trying to figure out what’s keeping me from loving it. Like, objectively speaking, the two big action scenes are awesome and should have blown me away, but I’ve felt distanced from them both times. And I think the answer is that, despite all the amazing work put in here by the stunt team, they never QUITE pull Gabriel off. When I watch these scenes, I’m missing all the moves and the gags because all I’m staring at is the rubber mask on the back of the stuntperson’s head. I think a few shots of Annabelle Wallis’ actual face as she performs a move or two walking backwards would have gone a long way toward selling the effect, but as is, I just kind of don’t buy Gabriel once we get a good look at him. There’s always some off detail that drags me out of the moment. The way he’s presented confuses my eyeballs, which works well for the horror scenes but takes away from the action beats. Like, I had to watch the special features to notice that he chops an arm off in the middle of the fight. I LIVE for stunts mixed with gore gags, so there has to be SOMETHING wrong with the filmmaking when a bloody limb-severing happens right dead center of the screen and I miss it because I’m fixated on what looks like a CPR dummy strapped to the back of somebody’s head. The ideas here are all great but I think the execution is a near miss.

    Plus, once you know the twist, the first two-thirds of the movie feel a lot like waiting. I do have to give props to Wan for hiding Gabriel in plain sight for most of the movie. Once you know the score, you look at the shots of him prior to the big reveal and wonder how in the hell you ever got fooled, because he is OBVIOUSLY a dude with his clothes on backwards. I give props for both the audacity and the successful execution of this daring daylight robbery.

    All in all, I appreciate the gesture that a big-time director tried to do something weird, but it’s just not quite weird enough to really satisfy. It’s pretty weird by today’s standards but would be maybe the eighth or ninth weirdest horror movie of 1990. It gives the impression of a very normal person who is inordinately proud of how hard he’s waving his very tiny freak flag. Like some basic-ass dude you meet at a party who likes to brag about how crazy and dark his sense of humor is because he watches Adult Swim.

    I will still definitely watch MALIGNANT CHAPTER TWO: THE TRIAL OF GABRIEL. I just wish I was more excited about this one.

  60. “Like some basic-ass dude you meet at a party who likes to brag about how crazy and dark his sense of humor is because he watches Adult Swim.”

    I come across this quite often but they watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

  61. Majestyk, if I could hazard another guess at your mental state (lol) — actually, screw that, if I could project my own mental state and if it also fits you, wear it, if not, … not. I think a lot of it is about expectations and the meta- ness of film discourse. If, by the time you get to MALIGNANT, it’s been sold to you as the second-coming of everything — horror, theatrical horror, giallo horror, non-franchise hard-R theatrical films, etc. — that’s a tough expectation to meet. If it’s just a fun, wacky little horror film, then it’s a whole other proposition. To come back to my own bullshit, the reason you’ll see me bagging on certain Disney shit goes beyond the merits or demerits of the individual film and has everything to do with the history/sociology/business-economics of Disney and MCU and consolidation and collapse of theatres. When a film like MALIGNANT (or, gasp, HEREDITARY!!!) is held up as the great white knight savior of film, it’s sure to disappoint.

    Back to the matter, I’m not sure MALIGNANT was substantially better than DEAD SILENCE, but it was fun and different in context of what else is and has been out there over the last 5-10 years.

  62. You might be right there Skani. I did not like HERIDITARY I do think the hype played a part. I set my expectations for something that it was not. Where as something like THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE I went into with zero hype and ended up pleasantly surprised. Perspective is key.

  63. So funny, Broddie, b/c, by the time I got to JANE DOE, it had reached peak hype, and I had trouble getting into it, even though I can’t think of anything specific to complain about. I definitely remember it being creepy.

  64. Nah. I saw MALIGNANT before the hype got out of hand, and I’m even happy about the hype. I’m glad people got pumped about a horror movie that is at least trying not to be the deadly dullest fucking thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And I like it. I just don’t love it, and I’m trying to figure out why.

  65. I feel like this movie holds up well enough to weird 90s horror…I mean what was some of the weirdest shit that was out there? Street Trash late 80s, but it still just has one basic idea. Another would be Frankenhooker which takes the easy route and goes silly and comedic, but again just one or two wacky ideas…guy blows up hookers and makes a Frankenhooker, then we see the weird little things he made out of the pieces. Had it been done SERIOUSLY, then it might better and weirder, I didn’t find it funny. But also those movies were made for maybe hundreds of thousands, while Wan got some studio suckers to fork over 40 mil so he could make a movie where a psychic twin who controls electricity pops out of a woman so it could kung fu a whole police station. No one was financing that shit in the 90s for real cashola.

    I don’t know though, about it sticking out as not being a dull horror, in the sense that 2021 had a ton of horror that wasn’t A24 style. You had Halloween Kills, Army of the Dead, Last Night in Soho, The Fear Street series, Candyman, Antlers, Shadow in the Cloud, Willy’s Wonderland, The Forever Purge, A Quiet Place Part II, The Saw movie, and those are just the major ones I’ve seen, not counting the indies. Not to say something like Army of the Dead was really worth a shit but it wasn’t a movie in dark halls with a lot of droning, it was pretty much fast paced trash.

    And if anyone wants to now MY hipster bonafides, last night I watched a double features of a James Bell movie, who makes these hour long movies with no plots shot on VHS in his house that generally include extreme gore and sometimes hardcore sex (and sometimes both at once), and then Geek Maggot Bingo so clearly I am one with refined tastes.

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