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Malignant (2021)

There is no denying that James Wan is a very successful horror director and has done a lot of good for the genre and its fans. Unfortunately for me though, I'm just not a draw to a lot of his work. I know I am in the minority but I feel his films are marketed towards box office success and in order to achieve that they need to appeal to a wide range of audiences. In doing so, I feel that the true essence of horror is ultimately sacrificed. That aside, it is very clear that the man has a great eye for stylish cinematography. The scene early on when Madison is running through the house and the camera pulls away to an aerial view and we see the camera follow her up the stairs and through into each room over the tops of the walls is just a fraction of some of the clever shots used. I think he does a really god job with the transitions scenes as well, switching from Madison's perspective to Gabriel's in an almost Silent Hill like fashion, with the background around her crumbling into Ash only to reveal her new paralysed destination. The twist for me was predictable pretty early on, I couldn't quite put together the logistics of it but I certainly knew the direction it was taking. The more we become introduced to Gabriel the more obvious it became. Although I felt it gave quite a lot away, I really found the way he moves incredibly captivating, something that makes more sense once we get the final revelation. The chase scene that unfolds with him and detective Shaw puts this on display brilliantly, running through corridors and down fire escapes in an almost spider like fashion with inverted limbs and joints. This is going to be a personal annoyance that I found and will probably not have bothered many other people the way it bothered me but I just hated the score for this film. Let me rephrase that, I hated the use of the score in this film. The score itself is outstanding and one of the best versions of The Pixes - ‘Where Is My Mind’ that I have ever heard (one that I have listened to countless times since seeing this film). I really disliked the way it was used in tense moments in the film. Although in hindsight it is now obvious what it is, in the moment I found myself more concerned with placing the song than what was unfolding on screen. I would have found something much more original to be better suited to these scenes. The acting here is a really mixed bag. The two main leads, Madison played by Anna Ellen Wallis and her sister Sydney played by Maddie Hasson are outstanding here. However, everyone else around them seems to me like they are acting in some sort of sitcom. I'm not sure if this is a directional cue or a fault on the actors part but the collective tone seems all over the place to me. None of it seems to blend well together and the opening sequence alone is a prime example of this, feeling like a scene from a spoof film. I was very unsure at first whether this was going to play out as a horror comedy. I have to be honest, I found the practical effects work of Gabriel to be terrible for a film of this standard once we see his true form on a young Madison. Had I seen this in a B-movie I would have found it passable and entertaining, but here it just felt out of place and slightly lazy. This is especially more apparent when you take into consideration the fantastic practical work during the surgery to remove him from Madison. This scene alone puts perfectly on display capability of the team working on this and makes it all the more disappointing when we ultimately see the end result of his character and his attachment. Overall I don't think this film is for me, I found it to be tonally all over the place and quite ridiculous with its premise. As a horror fan I know how that sounds, we have all seen some wild things throughout our search for the strange and disturbing but this for me just struggled with what knowing which category to put itself. Ultimately, resulting in a confusing and messy end product.


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