Malignant ★★★★★

Quick thoughts:

Malignant is a supernatural slasher film directed by James Wan, from a screenplay by Akela Cooper, based on an original story by Wan, Ingrid Bisu, and Cooper. The film stars Annabelle Wallis as Maddison "Maddie" Lake-Mitchell, a woman paralyzed by fear from shocking visions, whose torment worsens as she discovers her waking dreams are terrifying realities. Reviewing this movie is going to be tough, because there's so much I want to talk about, but can't because it basically spoils everything not shown in the marketing. We'll definitely talk about this more in depth on the next Renegade Marquee podcast. But for now, I have to just come out and say it: this is James Wan's best film! You don't have to agree with me, hell you might not even like this if what I'm attempting to describe just isn't your cup of tea. But one thing that's for certain is that this movie could not possibly exist, had the director not delivered two billion dollar blockbusters for two separate franchises within roughly 3 years. That's not even counting the success he's had shepherding his own billion dollar franchise in The Conjuring. So with all that clout, it gave him all the freedom in the world to cut loose, creating something truly terrifying, but with the same manic energy as seen in Aquaman. Everyone in this movie brings their A-game, from Annabelle Wallis as the main protagonist, so supporting players like Maddie Hasson as Sydney Lake, George Young as Detective Kekoa Shaw, McKenna Grace as the younger Emily May, and the combination of physical performer Marina Mazepa and voice actor Ray Chase as Gabriel. As dark as this movie can get when dealing with themes of repressed trauma, screenwriter Akela Cooper, known previously for her work in television and the 2018 slasher Hell Fest, adds a nice touch of camp to the material. This is one of the reasons why both the opening scene and the entire third act are as memorable as they are, and why I'm thankful that the marketing gave none of this away. Without completely spoiling the third act, I'll just say that I want to see more of that in the future, and I hope studios are brave enough to give filmmakers the level of freedom as Wan was given here. Malignant is now playing in theaters and also available to stream at home on HBO Max. However you choose to see the film, I hope you do so ASAP!