Malignant ★★★½

I’ve been excited for this ever since it was announced James Wan was making a giallo inspired film. I don’t particularly love Wan’s style but I appreciate how far he’s willing to go for a mainstream studio director.

While the pitch for this movie is The Eyes of Laura Mars, it becomes something much different. This was not the giallo I imagined it would be when it was first announced. The only giallo ties are a murder mystery and a black gloved killer. If I had to compare it to Argento or Fulci, I’d say it’s more in line with Phenomena or Lizard in a Woman’s Skin. 

Wan stated an inspiration was De Palma, and while true, it’s not the De Palma movie you’re thinking. It’s not Dressed to Kill as I predicted. The title should’ve given me a clue that it was medical horror akin to early Cronenberg or Larry Cohen or another director that might be too much of a spoiler. 

I probably would’ve loved this a lot more if I wasn’t mildly spoiled, but from the opening prologue it’s established it’s going to get weird. And as much as I love what Wan’s doing by pulling from so many great sources of inspiration, it’s still in his style. A style that I don’t completely love. Those movies have a very distinct look and sound to them, which this doesn’t. Wan is a professional at utilizing the camera to its full potential. I’m glad he doesn’t indulge in retro pastiche and imitation, but his polished visual style feels stuck in the 2000s. I just wish he’d lean into the camp a bit more.

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