Malignant ★★★½

From the director of Saw, Insidious & The Conjuring comes a stylishly crafted, consistently thrilling & gleefully violent nightmare that's stained with blood, soaked in terror & smeared with body counts. Gripping from the get-go, keeping its viewers guessing for the most part and going absolutely bonkers in the end, Malignant feels fresh despite treading familiar grounds and is one of the goriest entries in mainstream horror.

Directed by James Wan, his latest feature marks his return to his horror roots and serves as his love letter to giallo films with elements of slasher, splatter & camp also coursing through its veins. The film sets the tone with its vicious opening prologue after which Wan paves the groundwork quickly for the main plot to kick into action and directs with glee, passion & confidence while exploiting the R-rated freedom to its max.

The characters aren't fleshed enough for the viewers to give a damn about any of them but Wan narrates the story with such grip, energy & vibrance that the interest is never lost. And the last 30 mins are insane as Wan removes the shackles and allows the film to go full crazy. Also notable is the aesthetic brilliance, for the flamboyant camerawork, breezy pace, smart editing & jarring score infuse their own flavours and enrich every set piece.

Overall, Malignant presents James Wan in control of his craft as he tackles a slice of horror he hadn't explored before, and delivers a fun & fiendish supernatural slasher that's riveting, unpredictable & delightfully deranged. Embracing not only the strengths of its subgenre but also its shortcomings, Malignant isn't going to satisfy every palate but the cinematic craftsmanship on display & Wan's head-on approach makes it worthy of appreciation & admiration anyway.

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