Taking a step away from The Conjuring universe and it’s spooky goings-on and bringing things out of the Aqua-drenched world, James Wan throws you straight into the maelstrom without a second thought about what is happening. And I loved it! What a great opening sequence to bring an idea of the tone and general craziness that is about to happen.
Post opening credits, it slows down a little bit but not by much. There isn’t too much padding here at all as we get going on the plot. Maddison (Annabelle Wallis) is pregnant and in an abusive relationship when events get out of hand, only this time her abusive other half gets a brutal comeuppance from a mysterious and seemingly supernatural intruder.
And these gory events keep coming but we get an interesting mechanic alongside them, Maddison is transported to the scenes of the crime and bears witness to the vicious slayings that are happening. These visual flourishes are less commonplace in smaller horror films as the budgets don’t allow for these types of things, but here we get it and it is gloriously done, walls and surrounding melting away to show a different place (a $40 million budget put to good use!). Another interesting choice to differentiate itself from other films is the level of physicality and action that the perpetrator is able to wield and utilise. Rather than pure power we get something more balletic and flowing whilst also bringing highly choreographed fight sequences to the fore. It is breathtaking to watch at times and, towards the end, there is a prolonged scene where all hell breaks loose and it is superb!
The plot unfolds at a decent pace, never leaving you waiting or wanting and the ultimate reveal is slightly signposted earlier on if you watch closely enough, but it does feel like it has been well constructed and it is all the better for that completeness. Annabelle Wallis is front and centre throughout this film and she does really well to portray the vulnerability and loss of control of her character. Supported well by her sister Sydney (Maddie Hasson), you really do feel the bond between the two women. The detectives assigned to the case feel a little stereotypical in their assigned roles, but they do add something to the film.
Malignant doesn’t quite hit the creepy vibes that I think it was aiming for on top of everything else, which is a bit of a shame, but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of it at all. I did have a slight issue with the ending and the way things were wrapped up being a little bit cliché, but it is a minor grumble amongst the many other extremely well done things throughout this film.