Malignant ★★★½

Edit: Full podcast discussion out now. 

Maaaan, if this operated on the same frequency that it does in the third act during the other two, it would be an all-timer. 

As is, it’s messy but still rewarding? The weight of the reveal is just so great that treating it as late-in-the-game twist kind of fails that premise? I reserve the right to change my opinion on this after a rewatch. It seems like my issues may fade away knowing what’s going on.

Something about the middle hour feels off, it seems to be trying to be a different type of horror flick? Like more typical Wan haunted houses shit. When it changes gears to what it’s actually about, it fucking rocks.

Why bury the lede like that? Maybe if the mystery or buildup was more exciting it would work, but it’s just kind of plodding and goofy for a while. Repetitive and boring, and even though a lot of it is revealed to be misdirection, it still is what it is.

Everybody’s clocking this as a giallo (because it’s red a couple times? or maybe just because the press notes say so or whatever) but it’s way more Frank Henenlotter. I even got sleazy ‘80s De Palma, which itself is Giallo-inspired, so sure, but those names hit me more than giallo period.

The highs are real high for me but it’s definitely … inelegant. I’ll give Wan this - he really knows how to shoot a Prius pulling into a driveway! Typically fun camerawork here but nothing that feels new or particularly exciting for him. I did feel that he successfully subverted the “herky jerky bendy” trope in a super fun way 

I had so much fun by the end that I almost forgot it’s 10 minutes shy of two hours long. But you certainly feel that as you’re watching it.

side note I saw this at an independent theater on Norfolk Virginia because I’m in Virginia Beach for a wedding and I was not only the only person in the theater itself but I think the only non-staffer in the damn building. the ticket was $5!

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