Malignant ★★★★

One of the most visually dynamic and entertaining movies of the year for sure, and it's fun to see a creative horror movie that feels like a throwback in spirit as well as just aesthetic. Sometimes it veers too much into self-conscious moodiness or goofiness for the freewheeling madness of its best scenes to feel like a consistent tonal triumph, but it hits enough of the time to be a success. The last third truly pops off and goes for it, making for the rare new release that continues to get more entertaining as it goes along.

I'm probably only thinking of this because James Wan and Leigh Whannell have a long collaborative history, but it's interesting to compare this to The Invisible Man-- Malignant is arguably more aesthetically ambitious, but ultimately feels a lot more flat in its portrayal of a lead female character being deceived and tormented by an abusive figure. In its best moments, the kinetic campiness of Malignant makes up for the inertia of the protagonist, but the last ten minutes made me wonder if they didn't leave something on the table, narratively, by making her as helpless as she is for as long as they do. A movie this wacky can arguably get away with some flat or sudden turns in a character arc, but it would have been cool to see as much nuance in that area as was clearly applied to the visuals.

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