Upon hearing the word ‘malignant’, you somehow imagine James Wan (the brains behind incredibly successful horror franchises Insidious, The Conjuring and Annabelle) would offer a more supernatural interpretation to what is mostly considered a virulent tumour. Initially that’s what we are made to believe, yet a certain twist in the second half morphs things into a body-horror/Cronenbergian direction, trading any metaphysical leanings synonymous with Blumhouse creations to something unusually corporeal and more action focused.

The beginning exudes ominousness, with its opaque sketching of a deformed body, one of a child called Gabriel, that is held hostage in a medical facility; pricked, prodded and then disregarded. Now suddenly in its afterlife, some twenty plus years later, its soul seeks revenge on those who wronged him. His manifestation oscillates from a mysterious long-caped figure (The Crow comes to mind) to a menacing opaque shadow, hence its intermittent physicality proves perplexing to viewers who are expecting some indefinable demonic apparition.

There appears to be a direct connection between Gabriel and Maddison Mitchell (played by Anabelle Wallis, whose 60s throwback looks are heavily reminiscent of horror queen Barbara Steel). Their shared childhood trauma surfaces when Maddison gets caught up in the maelstrom that ascends upon her the moment her abusive husband is killed. She becomes paralysed by visions of gruesome murders which become grim realities, as Gabriel’s presence slowly creeps nearer from the peripheries.

The ubiquitous greyness gives off a 3D animation texture, which becomes even more prominent as the CGI-infested action sequences proliferate. Wallis, along with the majority of cast which includes a useless bad cop/good cop duo, bizarrely ham it up in the vein of a low budget B-movie. But let not these critiques deter you, Malignant is worth a sitting, solely for its sensational reveal that forces you to reconsider everything you’ve just seen.



CAST:  Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young


WRITERS: James Wan, Ingrid Bisu, Akela Cooper

SYNOPSIS: Madison is paralysed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.