WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT. HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Cut Out The Cancer: Malignant (2021)

Malignant (2021)
Rating: ****
Starring: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson and George Young

When it comes to James Wan, I like a lot of his horror films as I see the kind of fanfare I typically enjoy in my fright flicks: crazy B-grade goodness with creepy moments, fun jump scares and expressive camera work. Fortunately for us, Malignant, Wan's little supernatural love letter to giallo and slasher cinema (and then some), delivers all the goods you would expect in a great bodycounter with a little more extra for that positively insane movie experience!

Starting the scene in 1993, at the Simion Research Hospital, where a group of doctors go through a harrowing attack from an obscured patient named Gabriel who somehow has the ability to control electricity, broadcast thoughts through airwaves and overpower anyone twice their size. The staff eventually subdue the vile thing with a dart gun and, hoping to finally stop the patient's increasing threat, prepare Gabriel for surgery to "cut out the cancer".


Forwarding twenty-eight years later, a pregnant woman named Madison Lake gets the rough end of a strained and growingly abusive relationship with her husband Derek Mitchell when he beats her head against a wall, arguing at her about the futility of them having children since Madison appears to be prone to miscarriages. As night falls, something otherworldly invades the couple's residence and gruesomely murders Mitchell before going after Madison, knocking her unconscious during the attack. By the time she comes through, responding police has rescued her and she's taken to a nearby hospital, where she is informed by her sister Sydney that, devastatingly, her unborn baby didn't survive the ordeal. 

It wasn't until two weeks later though, when a recovering Madison returns to her home, that everything shifts for the far worse; she quickly learns that whatever has targeted her during that home invasion is far from done terrorizing her life as visions of savage murders and monstrously taunting phone calls start plaguing her days and nights. The more the bodycount rises, the more Madison and Sydney, as well as Kekoa Shaw and Regina Moss, a pair of detectives looking into the murders, start to piece together a grim puzzle and untangle a dark past involving medical horrors and a familiar violent entity that goes by "Gabriel".

Albeit the tone can be a bit (if not mostly) all over the place, it does befit the craziness Malignant wallows in and it is put to good use as Wan embraced the absurdity of the movie's premise to give us the outrageously energetic madness that is this hodge-podge of supernatural horror, brutal slashings, body horror, medical nightmare and, yes, even a little bit of creature feature. It isn't without its own rusty cogs and drawbacks, of course, such as the characters being a little dim, holes on the plot and the twist being anything but close to original (I can tell two other slashers that already did it, though I cannot say which as it'll spoil the fun. You might get it once you see it, though), but the manically stylized execution and wild, increasingly no-holds-barred direction undoubtedly make this film a real popcorn horror treat.


As the director himself put it, Malignant is a horror film made for horror fans, so it doesn't come as any surprise that it has genre homages in every nook and cranny; there are giallo influences pretty much present within the movie's cinematography as well as the villain's get-up and the home invasion around the first act even has its little slice of ghostly scares for that supernatural creepiness. But what really brought home the fun factor for me is the ridiculous levels of campy creative choices and hammy dialogue that certainly place this movie around the same plate as cheesed-up 80s slashers and monster movies, especially with its Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)-inspired victim/killer shared visions and a bodycount going monumental by the second half courtesy of a police station massacre that rivals The Terminator (1984) or Maniac Cop 2 (1990), committed through the hands of a maniac with a rather interesting concept and design focused on limberness and flexibility in all the wrong way. (Oh, and random electricity-based powers. That's a thing you get for being that, apparently) It's crazy, without a doubt, but as everything is done with a straight face and a semi-serious banter, the half-and-half subtle tongue-in-cheek is just made twice the better!


This being said, those looking to see sober scares may want to look elsewhere as the movie's clearly made with the intention to be darkly playful and littered with dismembered body parts. What else is there to say but James Wan really let it all loose in Malignant and I am happy to say that the resulting gory, campy and thrilling little devil is destined to be a bonafide cult classic!

Bodycount:
1 female smashed against a door, killed
1 female found murdered
1 female found murdered
1 male had his head internally decapitated
1 female beaten to death with a trophy
1 male stabbed and carved to death with a weaponized trophy
1 male found slaughtered to death with a weaponized trophy
1 female had her neck torn open
1 female clawed through the gut
1 female stomped on the head
1 female had her neck broken
10 females slaughtered offcamera
1 female thumbed on the eyes, used as a human shield and shot dead
1 male repeatedly beaten against iron cell bars
1 female found murdered
1 male found murdered
1 male found murdered
1 male stabbed through the back with a weaponized trophy
1 male had his throat slashed with a weaponized trophy
1 male stabbed through the gut with a weaponized trophy
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 male used as a human shield, shot dead
1 male stabbed through the neck with a weaponized trophy
1 female stabbed through the head with a weaponized trophy
4 victims seen murdered
1 male stabbed in the gut with a weaponized trophy
1 male stabbed through the neck with a weaponized trophy
1 male slashed across the neck with a weaponized trophy
1 male stabbed with a weaponized trophy
1 male stabbed with a weaponized trophy
1 male slashed across the throat with a weaponized trophy
2 males seen murdered
1 male had his pacemaker supernaturally cooked, explodes out of his chest
Total: 46

Also, "Cocky-Knockers"

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