Earlier this week we published a thoughtful piece on James Wan’s latest horror offering, Malignant. Whether or not anyone had the same takeaway from the film as the author, I felt good publishing the essay because up until then all the “reviews” I had seen online had been shallow musings that only took the film at face value. But there’s so much more to explore! Malignant is exciting because it’s been such a long time since a horror film has been released that is as fun as it is thought-provoking. I don’t know about you, but I am so pleased to have my #spookyseason jump-started with such an electrifying conversation piece.
The key to Malignant‘s success is blending. Not only does it thrive on cross-genre blending (elements of horror, thriller, mad science-style sci-fi and even screwball action all live here), the film blends homage and originality in such a genuine way that does not have even one drop of fan service. But, what Wan and screenwriter Akela Cooper succeed with the most is thematic blending. Malignant raises questions on hot topic ethical debates such as how much we can trust our doctors, whether or not “Evil” cares about prisoner rights and/or defunding the police, and if a child conceived as a result of rape must be carried to term. That last one is tricky because the film actually kind of teeter-totters between a pro-life and pro-choice argument, but honestly, that’s the thematic blending I find to be most rewarding: a film that makes me think about a topic without telling me specifically what to think about it. And in that, Malignant is a film about trauma, but it doesn’t treat it as currency–a far more impressive feat than most A24 pictures that have the same kind of reputation.
Suffice to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about this picture this week. So in order to immerse myself even more into the world it represents, I built a Spotify playlist to serve as Audio Fanfiction. This playlist is an attempt to capture the anxiety, confusion, misguidedness, and dark humor felt by the characters (notably our duplicitous protagonist, Maddie), which intensify as both the plot and playlist do.
Please, I can’t stress enough: watch Malignant. Even if you hate the premise or the execution, I promise there will be something worthwhile to take away from it. If you have seen it, watch it again! And enjoy my entry for Audio Fanfiction. ★