Malignant (aka Silvercup / Malignant Man / Untitled James Wan/Horror Project) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Malignant is one of those films with a twist so shocking you almost don’t want to spoil it. It’s that movie where you try to keep hush-hush about it for your friends and then watch, anticipating their jaws to drop when the big twist is revealed. It’s not just the reveal but how this revelation almost completely changes the genre of this picture. I’m talking From Dusk Till Dawn levels of surprise. I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum for the sake of any unaware readers but be advised that this is a picture with such a juicy turn that’s hard to keep concealed.
So...how to explain such a film? Well, it takes place in modern times where Madison Lake is going through a tough time. She’s pregnant and married to an abusive husband. She’s also experiencing wild dreams where she witnesses murders in her sleep. When she awakens, however, those nightmares turn out to be reality. There’s a serial killer on the loose and she can witness each crime. But how do you communicate such a revelation to the authorities? More importantly, how do you mentally process such dreams?
There’s a twist that involves both the supernatural and body horror which really shocks how divergent the picture becomes. What starts as a fairly somber and grim supernatural drama soon transforms into a nearly gonzo action picture. It stops being The Conjuring and transforms into Darkman if that makes any sense. This wild shift for the picture is sure to polarize the audience for making such a daring choice in where such horror will proceed for its third act, carrying campy aspects.
Personally, I adored the guts of such a picture to take this risk. It shocks, sure, but also makes the picture ten times more entertaining. Just take a moment to relish this aspect. Take in how mesmerizing it feels for a film to lead you down a path you don’t expect. Appreciate the gore that springs forth and the fast-paced thrills that slap the picture out of becoming a dull drama of uncovering a supernatural murder.
Director James Wan manages to be surprising but one almost kinda expects that turn for a director who has dabbled in more than one genre. Sure, he’s done horror but he’s also done action films such as Furious 7 and Aquaman. It’s almost as if he started writing a mystery horror picture with the supernatural involved but then decided midway through that he was bored and wanted to entirely switch up the picture. Surprisingly, it works!
Malignant is absolutely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea for being so brazen about both its brutal violence and its twisty-turny script. If you’re willing to go along for the ride, however, you’re in for one heck of a pleasing picture. Try to watch it with friends if you can. If you can’t, arrange a viewing with your friends after watching the movie and share the shock that comes across their faces by the time you get to THAT scene in the jail cell.