Malignant ★★★★

Watched in the cinema (39th visit in 2021)

What do "Saw", "Insidious" and "The Conjuring" have in common? The three are among the most successful horror franchises of the last 20 years, and director and screenwriter James Wan was at the beginning of all of them. The Australian is a master at pulling original horror material out of his hat that is such a hit that sequels quickly become a fact of life. But instead of then concentrating on the sequels, Wan leaves this work to others in most cases, while he looks for new ways to shock the audience.

Thus, "Malignant" is also not based on any already established material, but was conceived from scratch by Wan and his co-writers Ingrid Bisu (his wife) and Akela Cooper. They took their cue from the "giallo" thriller subgenre, which enjoyed great popularity in the seventies thanks to Dario Argento films such as "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage", "Profondo Rosso" and "Suspiria".

In contrast to his last works, Wan has once again rolled the big barrels of film blood to the set. This decision makes perfect sense, since the giallo films gained notoriety not because of their subtlety and particularly polished dialogue, but because of their blood content and brutality. There is a lot of that in "Malignant". The fact that the killer here is equipped with a golden dagger, black gloves and a dark long coat should make the hearts of fans beat faster. The soundtrack is further reminiscent, not coincidentally, of the band Goblin, although a recurring piece of music might sound familiar to some from another film. Which film and song is meant, however, would be a minor spoiler for the resolution.

A resolution that will throw many off their game. Either way, "What the fuck" is likely to be shouted quite often in the cinema. The question of whether this WTF twist ruins the film or not is one that every cinema-goer must answer for themselves. Because what Wan and his co-writers have come up with here is pretty absurd and wacky. But that was no different with the giallo films. In the case of "Malignant", it's something you have to see to believe. Here, the tastes of the masses are gleefully ignored and instead a twist is presented that comes across as fresh and has rarely been shown before. What is undeniable, however, is that "Malignant" looks simply fantastic visually.

Once it is revealed what exactly is going on, Wan then pushes the pace in terms of action and brings back memories of the police station massacre in "The Terminator", among other things. On the negative side, the film occasionally resorts to unattractive CGI during car chases and the characters almost always state the obvious. But in the end, the positive aspects outweigh the negative - as long as you are open to such wacky genre fare. 08/15 is definitely not the way to go - and that is exactly why I hope that James Wan will continue to let off steam in the genre.

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