Malignant ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

"Why am I calling the police?"

A total sickos masterpiece. James Wan, the absolute king, decided to use his AQUAMAN money to make a stunningly well-directed horror movie about the absolute sililest horror concept he could imagine. A concept that, when I told some of my friends about it, inspired nothing but awe and stunned disbelief. A concept that studio clearly did not know how to market, as they decided to sell this in the trailer as a haunted house imaginary friend movie, which, uh, is not what this is.

This starts with a bananas prologue that ends on a cut to the director credit for the ages, before proceeding as a pretty straightforward American spin on the giallo for a bit. Our protagonist, a very game Annabelle Wallis, starts experiencing visions of gruesome murders in a fugue state, while the suspicious death of her abusive husband looms large. Wan dials the jumpiness of something like THE CONJURING way back, relying mostly on the power of the camera instead of the sound mix for scares. There are still a few excellent jumps, particularly one involving a washing machine, but the beats that got the biggest rise out of my crowd were totally silent.

I thought I had basically predicted the twist this is obviously building to by the midpoint, and while the shape of my prediction was mostly correct, the actual details surrounding the twist are so absurdly nutty they really must be seen to be believed. As are the particulars of the climax, which takes the film from giallo to... something else, building to a setpiece that might have exceeded the gasp of the budget a bit but still had me absolutely cackling with glee. Which also goes for the entirety film itself. I'm sure some will bounce right off of this, but I personally love that something this crazy was released by a major studio and I sincerely hope Wan can crank something else on this level out after his latest visit to Atlantis.

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