The Gruesome Horror Flick ‘Malignant’ Is James Wan’s Best Work in Years
There’s just something about a good horror weapon. Freddy had his knifed gloves, Candyman had his hook hand, and Pinhead had... well, an entire BDSM closet’s worth of equipment. In Malignant, James Wan gives the genre one of its most curious instruments of murder: a medical trophy refashioned into a winged blade.
It should come as no surprise that the man who gave us an entire franchise named after its most recognizable torture instrument would once again outdo himself in the weapons department. But as unexpected as Malignant’s brass beauty might be, it pales in comparison to the shocks to come—especially the film’s B movie-style final act, which is best experienced with as little information as possible going in.
Malignant puts decades’ worth of genre trends in conversation. Just look at its central villain, “Gabriel”—both a classic Italian giallo villain and a Cronenberg-ian monstrosity, whose long hair masks his face as he scurries deeper and deeper into the buried remnants of the Great Seattle Fire. Still, you’ll be shocked to learn that this love letter to the horror genre hasn’t seduced everyone. After years of so-called “elevated horror” (don’t get me started on that term) and fun but redundant Conjuring-style films from both Wan and his contemporaries, it seems a healthy chunk of this film’s audience has become immune to the campy aesthetic and humor-driven ambition that Malignant exemplifies.