MALIGNANT (2021) Reviews [58] and Blu-ray, Digital and DVD news

 

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Malignant is a 2021 American horror film about a young woman who is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders; her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.

Directed by James Wan (Aquaman; The Conjuring; Insidious; Saw) from a screenplay written by Akela Cooper (The Nun 2; M3GAN; Hell Fest) based on a story Wan co-wrote with his wife Ingrid Bisu (The Nun). Produced by Michael Clear (Salem’s Lot 2022; There’s Someone Inside Your House; Annabelle: Creation).

The New Line-Atomic Monster production stars Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle; Annabelle: Creation and The Mummy), Maddie Hasson, Jake Abel, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michele Briana White, George Young and Paul Mabon.

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Blu-ray and Digital and DVD release:

Malignant will be released on Digital on October 22nd and on Blu-ray and DVD on November 30 via Warner Bros.

Reviews:

“Maybe the bar has been set very high in regards to the standards we are used to with Wan but Malignant for us fails to reach the standards required. Never have we experienced a film that fluctuates so much from potentially being one of the best films of the year to being one of the worst. In the end, it ended up becoming an average movie…” All Things Movies

“Wan doesn’t inject any surprising twists or turns in terms of narrative, but more in how far he pushes the envelope and how much fun he’s clearly having doing it. That you connect the dots long before the protagonists do means that the pacing sags in the second act, but Wan swoops in with a Grand Guignol-style third act that gleefully goes for broke.” Bloody Disgusting

” …will probably elicit some unintentional laughter out of viewers, especially those desiring something a bit more grounded after sitting through 90 minutes of puzzling motives and deep-dive research. Wan wants to leave the audience knocked out by his showmanship, but a tighter script and better casting are mostly ignored in the hunt for a killer ending.” Blu-ray.com

“It’s overlong, and its story is much more convoluted than it needs to be; the murders don’t even begin in earnest until the half-hour mark. Yet I found something refreshing about a major studio horror movie with the confidence to be messy […] This is not “elevated horror,” but rather a true-blue exploitation film which is more than happy to remain in the gutter.” Boston Hassle

“No one is holding punches, and thanks to a sound design that isn’t afraid to immerse its audiences, viewers hear how devastating, gruesome and painful some of the more heavy hits are. Malignant isn’t afraid to be brutal and gross at times, and instead of a jump scare eliciting shock from the audience, the unrelenting imagery and action will do the job just fine.” CBR

“A genuine magician when it comes to crafting cinematic scares, Wan mixes his slick sense of explosive style with throwback thrills that evoke the ‘80s and ‘90s nuttiness of things like Basket Case and Re-Animator. Malignant is what a gritty direct-to-video horror film looks like when it’s made by passionate professionals on a multimillion-dollar budget, and I mean that as a high compliment.” Culture Crypt

Malignant is spectacular, nuanced, intelligent, compelling, and scary as hell. It’s also hugely entertaining from its kick-ass intro to its violent conclusion. Malignant is the kind of film you can’t stop thinking about, and I’m already excited to give the film a second (and third) spin. While absolutely harrowing throughout and not always easy to watch, this is a film horror fans dream of and hope for.” Dread Central

“The lack of true scares may be a deal-breaker for some. And indeed, the overall outlandishness at work on the screen is going to flat-out annoy certain viewers. But then there will be those who revel in the audacity of Malignant, and boy oh boy are those folks in for a treat. This isn’t even close to being James Wan’s best horror movie, but cripes, it sure is a lot of fun.” /Film

“Unfortunately, with the horror, Wan falls into the usual scenes: flickering lights, doors that move by themselves and televisions that suddenly turn on. But these must-have tropes seem to be mostly there to keep the viewer entertained as Wan builds up to an all-time high. It’s a scene where everything is revealed and comes together, only to unfold as one of the most grotesque spectacles of the year.” Film Totaal [translated from Dutch]

” …so cuckoo that plenty of elements straight up make no sense even in the context of supernatural affairs. Aspects of the ending (much like everything else here) prompt a resounding “WTF” but are easily dismissible considering the batshit insane fight sequence preceding it. Malignant is somewhere between a curious misfire and unfiltered genius from James Wan; it’s both terrible yet deserves to be seen for its deplorable imagination.” Flickering Myth

Malignant is good, sometimes really good, but the first hour or so isn’t. You have some disappointingly weak death scenes, characters it is hard to really care about, a score from Joseph Bishara that doesn’t really work alongside the visuals most of the time, and constant overuse of CGI when practical effects would have added to the overall feel that Wan was aiming for. That final act makes up for a multitude of small sins, however…” For It Is Man’s Number

” …calling Malignant a throwback to 1990’s horror or giallo films is grossly overselling what is essentially a stylistic mess […] Also, the villain might have a giallo-feel but it also has a Ringu-vibe if you want to talk references. Finally, it just feels like a strange James Wan remix to me. There are elements reminiscent of Saw and also a hint of Insidious or a score that feels like something from The Conjuring universe.” Heaven of Horror

” …as more of the jaw-droppingly outlandish scenario is revealed, the sillier and more frenetic the proceedings become […] The film might have been outrageously bizarre fun if it displayed any humor or ironic self-consciousness, but everything is played so straight that viewers will find themselves laughing not with the film but at it. The characterizations are paper-thin, the dialogue is perfunctory, and the performances are, to put it charitably, adequate at best.” The Hollywood Reporter

” …James Wan is actually resurrecting an old sub-genre that hasn’t seen the light of day in a long time, the supernatural slasher […] While the horror genre has been the playground for slow, visceral, and gut-wrenching movies as of late, it is refreshing to see something come out of the woodwork and be this crazy. For anyone who has felt that films have been taking themselves too seriously and just want to have a bit more fun, Malignant is for you.” Horror Buzz

” …the dialogue in Malignant never quite reaches guffaw levels of awful, though it probably could have used a few more forehead smackers. When you’re taking this many wild turns, it’s better to just lean into the fact that you’ve made a ridiculous horror movie than to try and make a serious drama.” IndieWire

Malignant is bonkers and ridiculous in a very powerful way which may not sit well with some audiences. However, the majority of those who will watch it are sure to fall in love with it […] The performances were fine for the most part. The only area in need of some improvement was its secondary characters.” Keith Loves Movies

“It’s not creepy, it relies on highly improbable decisions, and it throws jump scares and slider-happy sound design at the wall hoping something will stick. The direction feels uninspired, even wan. Slow push-in after slow push-in and other unmotivated camera moves, plus copious fog-machine work and a poorly deployed score stand in for atmosphere or tension […] That said, the film’s big reveal is a doozy.” Los Angeles Times

” …it almost seems as if Wan is sabotaging the central mystery of this plot, given how—without giving too much away—the killer moves and the figure’s covertly coiffured appearance. That’ll be the end of any direct hinting or potentially unintentional revelation, but it is strange how, while indulging in some gory violence and gravity-defying chases […] the filmmaker more or less gives away the game by way of the staging of the action.” Mark Reviews Movies

” …while Malignant keeps reminding you of other genre movies, it never gets you invested in its own half-baked hijinks. That is until about 90 minutes in when Wan basically says “Fu*k it” […] The movie offers a twist that’s so ludicrous I simply had to applaud it. For its final 20 minutes, Malignant is a blast, the sort of gloriously misjudged, self-indulgent filmmaking you only get when a studio owes a filmmaker as much as Warner Bros owes Wan.” The Movie Waffler

” …almost everything before the big reveal is no fun at all. Up until the third act, the film has all sorts of problems, from bad acting to paper-thin characters to annoyingly flat dialogue to strangely amateurish cinematography and lighting choices. However, Malignant jumps into high gear once the secret is revealed, delivering exhilarating action scenes…” Nerdly

“It may seem like all the pieces of the puzzle are scattered with no rhyme or reason, but this is a Wan film. He’s not going to leave you hanging. For this critic, Malignant has found its rightful place as my favorite horror film of the year. It’s a game-changer, a beautifully deranged work of art that is destined to become a cult classic. It’s a love letter to the genre and its fans. This is Wan at his best.” Nightmarish Conjurings

” …the first two thirds of Malignant unspool with the energy of a first-time filmmaker making sloppy creative decisions […] Some giddy, and admittedly, thrilling slayings aside, by the time we reach the conclusion, you’re left wondering what the hell just happened. A valiant effort I’m sure will reward patient moviegoers, but the pacing and approach to Akela Cooper’s screenplay gave me serious spouts of whiplash.” The Only Critic

“The ridiculous premise lends itself to a campy horror full of increasingly outlandish deaths, and a central character so clueless she demands mockery. To her credit, Wallis nails Madison’s wide-eyed terror as she catches up to the obvious long after the audience does […] While there’s some perverse fun to be had, without a memorable boogeyman or protagonist Malignant can only spread so far.” Punch Drunk Critics

“Too often, it’s hard to know whether Wan and co. are kidding or not […] At many moments, the movie seems on the verge of tipping over into intentional camp, but it’s all played very straight […] Some psychic horror, some slasher horror, some body horror, a dash of women-in-prison, etc., without sufficient human interest to hold it all together or get us genuinely involved and terrified.” Rue Morgue

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” …blood-soaked, shock kills (and shock survivals), wrenching, gut-churning body horror that would make even David Cronenberg slip into the fetal position, and plot absurdities piled high like cordwood that even the most jaded, seen-it-all horror fan can do little except give in and giddily embrace Wan’s ferociously demented, delirium-inducing vision of familial love, biological connection, and psychological implosion.” Screen Anarchy

” …the film that it results in is his most inventively told since Insidious, and his most brutal since Death Sentence. How those two predecessors collide is an evolution for Wan as a visual storyteller, and it’s exciting to see play out. Everything we’ve seen ahead of time cannot prepare you for the vicious, visionary terror Wan unleashes by the end. This is easily one of his best films to date.” Sonic Cinema

“It can be argued that Wan waits too long before showing his hand, and Malignant could certainly benefit from losing 15 minutes or so from its overly laborious build-up. But the finale is so defiantly demented and executed with such confidence and commitment that any pain and suffering from what comes before is swiftly forgotten.” South China Morning Post

“Becomes so preposterous that any horror aspects come across as downright comical, especially when characters react to common themes as though any singular event is remotely original. Violent, but outrageously silly.” Splatter Critic

“The first act feels a little too po-faced – it should give more of a hint as to what the rest of the film will be like. Instead, it feels a little flat and it’s not until halfway through that the overbearing score and overacting clicks into place. But Wan makes good use of the space of the frame and the movement of the camera, and by the time things start dropping into place you’ll be pulled in and by the third act, should have a big grin on your face.” Starburst

As a producer, Wan has been as responsible as anyone for the glut of identikit horror time-fillers over the past decade, but Malignant feels like a great shaking off of the cobwebs, an embrace of all of the genre’s most disreputable conventions. You’ll laugh in inappropriate places, you’ll say “WTAF?” outloud, you’ll wonder if you’re being pranked – just let it go, and you’ll be fine.” Variety

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“Does Gabriel need to be able to feed off electricity and control machines since he’s not supernatural or otherworldly? Is there a reason why “Gabriel” needs to dress up as Edward Scissorhands every time he goes out killing? […] Malignant isn’t a well-thought-out or well-crafted movie […] It doesn’t scare and it doesn’t enthral; instead it lets you down and annoys you.” What Went Wrong With…?

“The story is really well written and we let ourselves go with a great pleasure as the revelations are made as we are trying to figure out who is that mysterious killer. James Wan really enjoyed his film and multiplies the ideas of shots such as this intense pursuit in a house seen from above or the stunning circular movements which plunge our heroine in the visions of murders.” What’s on Friday

Malignant understands psychology the way the Fast and Furious movies understand physics […] Malignant might not hold up to scrutiny, but by the time all its mysteries are revealed, it’s clear that it was never supposed to. It’s an absurdly entertaining frightfest with a heavy emphasis on the absurd, and thank heaven — or hell — for it.” The Wrap

Background:

James Wan previously commented: “I’m super excited to go back to my indie roots with this hard-R thriller. An original horror idea (not a reboot/remake or anything based on existing IP) with old school, practical effects and no giant, blue screen sets. That’s all I’ll say for now.”

Release date:

In the USA, Malignant was released theatrically and on HBO Max on  September 10, 2021, over a year later than originally announced due to the ongoing pandemic.

The Hollywood Reporter has stated that “Malignant will stream in China simultaneously on the video platforms of six major internet companies and telecoms, including iQiyi, Huawei, China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and China Broadcast Network.” This is apparently the first R-rated American horror film to gain distribution in China, although a few cuts were apparently required.

Cast and characters:

Annabelle Wallis … Madison Mitchell
Maddie Hasson … Sydney Lake
George Young … Kekoa Shaw
Michole Briana White … Regina Moss
Jean Louisa Kelly … Jane Doe / Serena (as Jean Louise Kelly)
Susanna Thompson … Jeanne
Jake Abel … Derek Mitchell
Jacqueline McKenzie … Dr Florence Weaver
Christian Clemenson … Dr Victor Fields
Amir AboulEla … Dr Gregory
Mercedes Colon … Mendez
Ingrid Bisu … CST Winnie
Ruben Pla … Officer Rubin
Jon Lee Brody … Officer Lee
Paula Marshall … Beverly Woods
Zoë Bell … Scorpion
Dan Ramos … Basco
Shaunte Lynette Johnson … Beta (as Shaunte Johnson)
Natalia Safran … Nurse Annie
Mike Mendez … Hospital Security Guard #1
Randy Haynie … Hospital Security Guard #2
Cord Walker … Hospital Security Guard #3
Jesus Trujillo … Research Doctor
Lisa Catara … Research Orderly
Danielle Nottingham … News Anchor
Ray Chase … Gabriel (voice)
Mckenna Grace … Young Madison
Patricia Velasquez … Nurse Velasquez
Madison Wolfe … Young Serena
Andy Bean … Frank

Filming locations:

Los Angeles – the production was a recipient of the Independent California Film Rebate.
Seattle – establishing shots

Technical details:

112 minutes

Fun facts:

The movie was previously rumoured to be called Silvercup.

Notes:

We first posted about Maligant back on September 25, 2019, when it was first announced.

Trailer 1:

Trailer 2:

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Featurette:

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