Movie review: 'Conjuring' director returns with over-the-top 'Malignant'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Nov 30 2021 06:27 AM

Madison (Annabelle Wallis) was pregnant again after a series of miscarriages. One day, her abusive husband Derek (Jake Abel) strongly shoved her, hitting her head on the wall. While she was sleeping to rest from this injury, Derek was attacked by an unseen entity who broke his neck, instantly killing him. When Madison woke up from a dream about Derek dying, she saw his dead body in their living room. Then the entity began to chase and attack her. 

Madison was a woman who can see a murder happening as if she was in the same place but she wasn't. The police detectives on the case, Shaw (George Young) and Moss (Michole Briana White), were so puzzled, they thought it was Maddie herself who did the brutal murders of two senior doctors Dr. Florence Weaver (Jacqueline Mackenzie) and Dr. Victor Fields (Christian Clemenson), even as she blamed an unseen entity named Gabriel. 

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Director James Wan is best known for his horror classics "Saw," "Insidious" and of course "The Conjuring," which had all spun off into their own franchises. This time he, along with his wife Romanian actress Ingrid Bisu, developed this murder mystery story caused by a seemingly supernatural being, and delegated the screenplay duties to up and coming writer, Akela Cooper, who worked on TV series like "Grimm," "The 100" and "Luke Cage." 

Annabelle Wallis gained mainstream recognition when she played the lead character Mia in another film connected with James Wan, "Annabelle" (2014). George Young, a fully-qualified London-based solicitor with Malaysian-Chinese and Greek-Cypriot blood, gets the highest-profile role in his career so far as Detective Shaw, who had an interesting first name Kekoa (Hawaiian, meaning "courageous").. 

The acting of everyone in the cast was high-strung and over-the-top, which can grate on the viewers' nerves after a while. The reveal of the actual relationship between Madison and her presumed childhood invisible friend Gabriel was a totally crazy medical impossibility of course, but it was oddly fun and entertaining to watch unfold. 

The ending was a bit too sudden, which was rather disappointing given the complicated twisty build-up and climax. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, “Fred Said.”