By Paul Hall
Madison Mitchell (Annabelle Wallis) is a woman living a fairly normal life. She is pregnant, working hard, and trying to do the best by her husband and bring her baby into the world. Multiple times in the past, she has been disappointed after experiencing miscarriages, and it is quickly shown why that might be the case in a truly horrifying early sequence in the new film Malignant.
Madison begins having visions — visions that transport her to horrific crimes. As those all-too-real moments envelop her current surroundings, the melding causes us to jump from our seats. But as the police begin to investigate murders that occur in her stratosphere, the things she has seen in her head lead to a horrifying reality that Madison and law enforcement may not be able to comprehend.
James Wan, the director behind Insidious, The Conjuring and Saw, takes us on this unencumbered journey through the mind of a woman who sees moments one rarely imagines. In Malignant, Wan has succeeded in yet another first-rate horror entry that will leave him remembered as one of the best in the business at scaring us.
Wan could not do this on his own. The talented cast is led by Wallis, who brings Madison to life. Wallis is dark, yet full of life as she is put through the paces in all corners of Seattle. She has dealt with an abusive husband in the past, but the abuse she is suffering in her head may be even more deadly than the obvious physical torment she has received, and it is evident in her performance on the screen.
We are greeted by a strange monster that has carried out many of the atrocities in her visions. This mainly faceless creature has the ability to make the hairs on viewers arms stand on end. It is the panic and paranoia that this aspect of the story brings that allows Wallis some of her best moments onscreen.
Not everything is positive here. There are some sequences that feel underdeveloped and some moments that seem grossly implausible. The key to getting us past those moments is the briskly paced story that doesn’t dwell on the slow moments.
This is more than simply a horror movie — it is a thriller that will occasionally leave you on the edge of your seat. I have so many questions with the end of the film, which, like all good horror movies, sets up a number of angles for a prospective sequel.
Malignant just may be the right nightmare to provide viewers with a good scare. Closing your eyes has rarely been such a frightening endeavor.
Paul’s Grade: B
Stars: Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White
Director: James Wan