Malignant ★★★★

The first half is a bland genre exercise, almost by design. It’s like Wan is drawing you into a state of complacency (“yeah yeah, we’ve seen all this before”) - then suddenly it takes a hard left turn into Crazytown and I couldn’t have been more delighted.

Wan slams several influences together at warp speed: Italian giallos, ‘70s grindhouse slashers, even the scuzzy early/mid-2000s programmers that were usually made by Warner Bros.

MALIGNANT isn’t very scary but it does have atmosphere for days, and the weaknesses of the script are almost an asset: the blunt dialogue and flat performances seem intentionally constructed, indulging timeworn horror tropes just for the fun of it (even down to the no-name cast). 

It feels like a big budget studio version of a cheap video nasty you’d find on a VHS rental shelf in the ‘80s. Wan even reinforces this with multiple shots of VCRs in action - who has one just lying around in case you need to pop in some old mental asylum footage??

I have to see MALIGNANT again to fully process it. On the first viewing though, Wan’s enthusiasm for pure, balls to the wall genre filmmaking is icky and spectacular. God bless him for getting WB to make this after delivering for them on AQUAMAN.

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