FoofDeckman’s review published on Letterboxd:
When I first heard about this movie, I just assumed that it wouldn't be good. Mostly because I'm not a fan of James Wan when it comes to his horror movies. I like the first Saw movie, which isn't necessarily horror in the traditional sense, but still. I haven't seen Aquaman or any of the James Wan directed Conjuring movies. I think I saw the first Insidious movie, but I remember nothing about it, besides that It wasn't memorable. So when I say that I kind of loved this movie, you should take that as a high compliment. Now this movie is getting fairly mixed scores, people seem to love it or hate it, I'm fortunate enough to be one of those people that really liked it.
Now if you're looking for a genuinely scary movie, this is not one of those films. This movie is extremely funny in a self aware/campy style, but not in a way that contains constant in your face humor. The thing about James Wan and his films, is I'm not a fan of is how serious they're taken even when they're goofy as hell. Malignant still treats it's horror moments as an actual threat, but is able to balance that with off the walls practical blood and gore effects. So if you're looking to just kick back and watch some creative filmmaking, this is a good movie for that, because I genuinely had a good time. It's been so long since I finished watching a movie and said "wow that was fun!"
One of two main complaints with this movie from me is the pacing. There's a good chunk of this movie where nothing interesting happens and they decide to double down on this plot. I can't say I was interested in the overarching canon of the threat. To me I found the twist to be extremely obvious and for a while before that, I was left sitting, hoping this movie was going to get good, and lucky it does to the point where I kind of loved it. The first 15 minutes or so get you hooked, then there's not much until the last 45 minutes or so past those 15 minutes. Those last 45 minutes really make up for that, and even in the middle chunk there's some fun scenes here and there.
The other main complaint is with the performances, a lot of dialogue is pretty bad. Sometimes there's a cheesy line that was intentional, but when it comes to the characters themselves I didn't particularly connect with any of them. To me it seemed like the script was less of a focus point and it was more of just fun horror elements, which in this case it worked for me.
Alright let me talk about the good stuff now without spoiling it. OH MY GOD THEY USED A PUPPET THAT WAS GREAT. I can't tell you how or when, but when you see it, it's a lot of fun. Probably one of my favorite reveals in a movie from 2021. To anyone who knows my movie tastes personally, they know that I adore practical effects over CG. There's tons of, what I've been calling in my head, "massacre scenes". It's basically when you get a bunch of nameless characters/extras as just canon fodder for the bad guy to kill. There's tons of scenes towards the end where the demon is just ripping people's limbs off and blood is squirting everywhere. I think there's one part where the demon takes off someone's limbs and throws it to knock someone else over, IT'S SO GOOFY I LOVE IT! The cell block scene and the police station are my favorite parts of the movie. I didn't realize how good James Wan was at filming action, but one of my favorite things in action movies are long takes. This has so many scenes where you're just watching these people fight in one continuous shot and it's really impressive to look at. I loved a lot of those scenes where the movie just embraces itself and just has fun.
I highly recommend checking this movie out. I feel the people giving this movie low scores are people that are long time fans of James Wan, from what I know this is very different from other things he's made and long time fans aren't happy. As someone that's not a fan of his work I've seen, this feels really fresh and way more up my alley than anything else I've seen by him. So if you're expecting another scary movie from James Wan, this is not that, but if you're looking for a fun tongue in cheek horror movie, this is a good pick. If you're interested I think it's on HBO Max for around a month at the time of writing this. Check it out.
2021 Reviews: boxd.it/aMx3a