Malignant is James Wan’s latest horror film! It was in theatres for some time and is streaming on HBO max. I saw this film a month ago in theatres and wasn’t really planning on making let’s say a review for it. However, while watching this film there was something about Malignant that really did come upon me! The thing is, camp is so rare in film now. In this analysis, I’m going to discuss why that’s the case, why I think this film is massively misunderstood, and why I think this film will get a lot more respect in the coming years!
Malignant tells the story of Maddison Mitchell played by Annabelle Wallace. She starts seeing these horrific visions of brutal murders, and much to her dismays, she soon discovers these visions are in fact horrifying realities!
The film’s not in theatres anymore but it is streaming on HBO Max. The marketing of this movie makes it look like it’s another one of those James Wan Conjuring/Insidious horror films. In fact, a few days before the movie, I checked to see what the trailers looked like, and I was not impressed! We’ve seen this concept before where a protagonist is envisioning murders and is trying to stop them! A movie like Minority Report is one of the more famous ones. This was strange since James Wan is known for making original and creepy horror films! So, I went to the film with a very open mind. I thought, “Alright James Wan! What do you have for me?”. And, oh my god! This is the most fun I’ve had a theatre all year! It’s nothing like the trailers! Not even close! It is obvious Warner Brothers didn’t know how to market this movie or just didn’t want to give anything away! And of course, if you didn’t like this movie, that’s totally fine. If you saw the movie, had a negative reaction, that’s okay! I’m not here to bash anyone if they didn’t like the film.
This is a horror film that utilizes camp. If you don’t know the term camp in film, it means it’s purposefully silly! It absolutely knows that! But it doesn’t look like most people understand that this film is camp
Due to the film’s marketing however, I do think many weren’t fully aware that was the case and were very conflicted! It’s got an above-average tomato metre, but the audience score of 52% is really saying a lot. The thing is, studios want a film that is easily describable and digestible to the vast majority of people. They want people to immediately know what type of movie they’re about to see, and films related to something we’ve seen before and makes us go, “Oh yeah The Conjuring! I love that movie and it’s the same director! I’m going to see Malignant!”. That is why the trailers make this film look like The Conjuring 4 or Insidious 6.
Here’s why camp is so rare now! You need an acclaimed filmmaker who’s had a ton of success to convince a studio to give them money to make a really ballsy film. If James Wan hadn’t created iconic films like the first two Conjuring films, the first Saw film, Aquaman, Furious 7 and Insidious, the studios would most likely be like, “Um no! You’re not Steven Spielberg! Unless you’re really big, this movie’s going to fail! Bye bye!”. Okay, maybe not that harsh, but they’d reject the idea. Unless if you’re James Cameron, or Darren Aronofsky, or Christopher Nolan, or some giant star like that, a studio like Warner Brothers is not going to finance a film like this.
It’s difficult to get a horror film that is campy from a major Hollywood studio. However, I think it’s equally difficult for people to realize that a film is campy or not. Of course, this is my biased opinion. Look, sometimes a movie is made and it’s pretty bad. I mean I recently saw M Night Shyamalan’s latest film Old and it was really messy! There were parts of the film that were unintentionally hilarious. Sure, I will continue to defend M Night and be a fan of his, but Old was a mess! In the case of Malignant, it’s very clear that the people working on it were purposefully making a really silly movie.
Due to how uncommon films like this are made, we don’t know how to fully process them, and we can mistake what they were going for, which leads to negative reviews. I mean, take American Psycho for instance. When it first came out it got mixed reviews. 20 years later, people understand that it’s not a serious horror film, but a dark comedy with horror elements to it. American Psycho is now one of the most iconic and respected horror films of the early 2000s. Jennifer’s Body is another example of a horror film that’s gone through quite the cult following. This is why I think in 10 or so years, people will understand that Malignant is not a serious horror film and respect it for being so ridiculous.
Even if I’m dying to, I’m not going to get into spoilers. I will say this though. There are sequences throughout the film where I was shrilled with laughter. Actually, not just any laugh, hyena laughter! I probably annoyed the 3 people in front of me due to just how much fun I was having throughout this movie. There is a plot twist so insane I actually thought to myself, “Oh my god! What is happening!”, in a good way. There are these two sequences towards the end in a prison cell and a police station I loved so much, I think they were worth the 15 dollars I paid just for those scenes alone!
The fact a movie like this exists, gives me hope for more bonkers horror films that don’t take themselves too seriously. I also do wish that it doesn’t take someone who’s made The Conjuring, Aquaman, Insidious and Saw to get rights to make films like this. I want more filmmakers to have opportunities to make films like this who don’t have an incredible filmography like James Wan’s
Now for the people who go into this film expecting Insidious 6, they’re going to be disappointed because it’s nothing like that. Even Wan stated don’t go into the film expecting The Conjuring. He wanted to make a film you’d find at the back of a shelf at your local Blockbuster, and I think he succeeded. I have a few questions looking back with the twist. A few things don’t fully make sense with the final reveal but to be honest, I don’t care! I had fun, this film surprised me, it took me to a new place!
So overall, Malignant is a film where the first third is a little strange and a bit messy. However, once you realize what’s taking place, the film gets extremely entertaining. I don’t get this much enjoyment watching films in theatres anymore. So many films are just showed into cinematic universes or are so serious and reminds us of the world we live! Malignant is not film tied to a universe and is trying not to scare you, but to entertain the life out of you! So, thank you James Wan!