Malignant ★★★½

Malignant is insane. Either the studio has no clue how to sell this to an audience, or it’s part of some ingenious plan to subvert expectations. The marketing heavily implies the next Conjuring, but this is a different beast altogether. Without getting into any specifics regarding plot, James Wan has made a genre blend that harkens back to the classic giallo (Italian mystery flicks in which a black-gloved killer brutally murders a bunch of people) as well as work from De Palma and Cronenberg, all the while maintaining a firm grasp on his own visual identity. No Wan (sorry) visually navigates a house quite like he does.

I must stress again: this movie is nuts. Being heavily inspired by the 70s and 80s, it would be wise to expect a heavy dose of sub-par acting, corny dialogue, crude exposition and campy, ridiculous moments. Yet Wan never falls into mere pastiche – he’s created a film that feels inherently from that era without indulging in copycat behavior for the sake of fan service. It takes big swings that will either have you giddy with laughter and excitement or make you check out at the halfway mark. Calling any of it “good” would probably be misplaced, but once I realized where the story was going, I couldn’t wipe the grin of my face. Fun with a capital F.

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