Malignant ★★★★★

I’m a James Wan man whore

I’ve made it no secret that he’s one of my favorite horror directors and that I’ll see literally anything with his name attached to it

I’d already loved this year’s THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT— but even I’ll admit that I’d wish Wan was more directly involved— so imagine my excitement over the announcement that we’d not only be getting another of his films this year: but also that it was written and directed by him

by the time the trailer came out and it looked like absolute trashy insanity— the best that I could hope for was that it was basically James’s “one for them, one for me”— after the success of the enjoyable AQUAMAN made with a shitload of “fuck you” money— with James basically putting everything he had into a monument of excess

and yet I was completely wrong

because somehow MALIGNANT is even MORE insane than I could’ve ever possibly imagined

I say this without any stretch of exaggeration, hyperbole, or anything otherwise: MALIGNANT may very well be James Wan’s magnum opus

now— I don’t mean this in the sense that I necessarily think this is Wan’s best movie— or even my favorite of his— that honor would still be reserved for something like SAW or THE CONJURING 2— but this is absolutely in the top 5 for me and it’s easily his most insane film: all while also being perhaps the most “holistic” James Wan film

what I mean by this is that James Wan has essentially taken every artistic trademark he loves— repressed psychological trauma, the demonic supernatural, mystery, action-fueled violence, entrapment torture, puppetry, technology, melodramatic acting, a powerful score (with a “Where Is My Mind?” main theme that’s just cheesily grandiose enough to kill it), stylistic direction, and the power of love— alongside every great genre and filmmaking influence on him— giallo, supernatural, body horror, action, comedy, mystery, the very 2000s psychological horror films that he got his start in, DePalma, Cronenberg, Argento, and so much more— and created the one singularly “him” film that would be given to aliens in the distant future if asked “what makes a James Wan film?”

like this movie should NOT work AT ALL and yet it does precisely for the exact reason that I keep coming back to every new James Wan film and hold him in such high personal regard:

it’s just him

it’s just James Wan

he’s got such a tangible passion for what he does that it legitimately elevates anything he touches— say what you want about his overall quality (which I personally think he’s full of)— but at the end of the day he makes damn entertaining films and this one’s nothing less than one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen in a theater hands down

I know I keep saying it but I mean it— the plot is fucking insane and is just so packed full of constant genuinely shocking twists that it makes each new reveal rope you back in by the neck every time, the overall tone is deliberately campy in terms of the acting and cinematography and score and yet all of it is told with such skillful commitment that you never feel taken out of the film once whether it’s indulging in some of the most graphic gore I’ve seen from a mainstream film in years or making you genuinely feel for each and every one of these characters in their struggles and the power of their relationships, the direction and cinematography and editing and action choreography and visuals and so much more are some of the best in Wan’s entire career with him constantly trying new things the entire runtime that I really don’t think I’ve seen any other filmmaker try before (so many aspects of this film are just gonna stick with me for the rest of my life through how they were executed), theming involving an actually compelling and surprisingly feminist story about a woman losing control of her body to men, and everything just all comes together so perfectly that my jaw was dropped the entire time just in absolutely fuckin’ awe over how somebody could be this insane to somehow actually pull all of this off

nobody could’ve done it but James Wan— and frankly I wouldn’t want anybody else but him doing it: MALIGNANT is the culmination of everything James Wan has done and I can’t fuckin’ wait to see what he does next

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