Malignant (2021) – Review

We’re almost 2 years into the US response to the coronavirus pandemic. Early on, I tweeted jokingly that we may as well get back to our blogs since, at the time, we were being asked to stay in our homes. We all had a good laugh about that (zero engagement/likes/retweets) and went back to doing whatever else we were doing to cope. For me, that meant a lot of mindless videogame playing (Fortnite) and almost no horror watching. I’d lost the taste for my beloved genre for the most part. I just didn’t find the same joy in it while I was stressing about staying safe (and keeping my family safe) IRL. In the past few months I’ve slowly returned to horror. I still don’t feel entirely safe, though I’m vaxxed and always wear my mask (over my mouth AND FUCKING NOSE) when around people. But I’ve gotten into a rhythm. So now I can handle horror movies without having a panic attack or slipping into a depressive funk. Horror movies like Malignant. And now I’m ready to get back to reviewing as well. Let’s get into it, shall we?

Prologue: some doctors and psych ward types panic in a darkly lit research psych ward because Gabriel got out. He somehow controls electricity to some degree and communicates through the radio. Oh, and he killed a few people! A couple of decades later, Madison experiences some pregnancy complications which sends her husband into a rage because she’s already had several miscarriages and he blames her. Probably because he’s a fucking monster of a human being. He beats her up and she locks herself in their bedroom. Hubby is attacked and killed in the middle of the night. Weird thing is, Madison can see what is happening despite being locked in the bedroom alone. (spooky!) She herself is attacked and loses the baby as a result. The mysterious killer is just getting started though and Madison has an even more mysterious link to him. She sees each of his murders as if she were there. She becomes a prime suspect in the killings and must unravel the mystery to stop the killer and to save her own skin.

I want to be very up front about one thing right at the start of this review paragraph: I didn’t hate it but I definitely didn’t “get” Malignant. Maybe you will. Maybe (probably) I’m just a killjoy. Maybe explaining my read on it will prime you to view it through a less befuddled lens than I did. So… guess I’ll do that now. The opening scene was so hammy and over-the-top that I thought for sure it would be revealed as a movie-within-a-movie. Like, maybe a character was working on a low budget schlocky horror film. Or just watching one. This was not the case. Then I wondered if maybe it was a comedy. It’s not. Not really. As far as I can tell, it’s more of a winky throwback to schlocky 80s low budget horror. That’s fine (I guess) but I wonder if that appeals to wide audiences. Actually, I don’t wonder that hard because this is my blog and I really only care about what I like. (so there!) Whatever the case, we end up with one-dimensional characters, implausible scenes, and some ham-n-cheese acting. Hell, even the twist is telegraphed so much that instead of being a WHAAAA?, it’s closer to a “yeah, duh”. (like, when you find out an outspoken “traditional family values” politician is a hypocrite) Right now you’re probably thinking, “Wait, dude. Didn’t you say you didn’t hate this movie?” I did say that (thank you for remembering). So far, it sounds unwatchable, right? Well, that’s not the case. Quite the opposite actually. It’s a fun cheeky throwback with some very unique action and some bloody good kills to boot. It helps that it’s fast paced as well. Otherwise, there’d be too much time for us to think about how not much adds up plot wise.

The Final Cut: Malignant is a niche homage to 80s schlock with all the cheese that implies. Its frenetic pace and creative, action-packed kills make it a pretty fun ride, but it may not be everyone’s cup of gore.

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