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Malignant is the newest flick from James Wan, a filmmaker who has made a name for himself in contemporary horror with the Insidious and Conjuring flicks. This film tells the story of pretty Madison (Annabelle Wallis) who is in an abusive marriage and now seems to be haunted by a murderous entity that calls itself Gabriel. The malevolent specter speaks to her through electronic devices and shares each of his gruesome killings with Madison through her own eyes. There is more to Gabriel than Madison knows, though, as she and this dark being share a terrifying secret together.

Film is stylishly directed by Wan from his script and story with Michael Clear and Akela Cooper. The result is a bit of a rambling mess, but it is a good looking mess, as Wan has always been a stunning visualist. There are some nasty killings and some really great gore and make-up FX, but the film seems to be a bit of an overindulgent attempt by a filmmaker trying to pay homage to maybe one influence too many and indulging in too many contemporary filmmaking toys. We see nods to everyone from Wes Craven to Dario Argento and the result starts off well enough, but gradually goes off the rails and looses it’s fright factor quickly. In the second half things really go over-the-top and the film gets more silly than scary, especially when we get the big reveal. The action scenes start to resemble a video game—this is where the overuse of digital toys comes in—and there is some cringe worthy dialogue, as again we see a talented filmmaker overindulging himself on all levels. One can truly appreciate what Wan was trying to do here and maybe for some tastes this flick may be exactly the off-the-wall goofiness they came for, but IMO it’s a sign of too many influences spoiling the soup and the result is an overstuffed and overloaded bloody mess that elicits eye-rolling more than screams. In it’s defense, it’s definitely the type of film that could grow on someone over time with repeat viewings, once you get used to the ludicrousness of it all. Now available in theaters or streaming on HBO Max.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating





A trailer has dropped for the latest fright flick from James (The Conjuring) Wan, Malignant! Horror will premier in theaters and on HBO Max on 9/10/2021 and the synopsis as per Warner Bros…

In the film, Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities. 
 Flick stars Annabelle Wallis as Madison and is directed by Wan from a script by Akela Cooper based on their story with Ingrid Bisu!

-MonsterZero NJ

Source and Photos:  Youtube




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(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

I’m not the biggest fan of The Conjuring. It was a well made film and had some spooky moments but, not nearly as good as it’s reputation suggests and it doesn’t hold up with repeat viewings. The film was a big hit, though and as money is what runs Hollywood, they couldn’t wait to pry more cash out of the pockets of The Conjuring‘s audience…and there are few better examples of a heartless, soulless, cash grab than this flick.

The unimaginative story takes place in the 70s, a year before the opening scene of The ConjuringWe have young couple John (Ward Horton) and Mia (Annabelle Wallis) expecting their first child and, of course, John celebrates this by buying the creepiest doll possible for his doll collector wife. That night their neighbors are slaughtered by their cultist daughter (Tree O’Toole) and her equally wacky boyfriend who, for some reason, decide to visit Mia and John after slaying mommy and daddy. There is an altercation in which Mia is stabbed but, the police arrive and kill the boyfriend while the daughter “Annabelle” commits suicide while holding the creepy doll…for the sole reason of setting up a horror film. Mia survives, as does their newborn daughter but, before you can say “burning Jiffy-Pop” the couple are besieged with every overused cliché in the horror movie manual as some demonic force has come to claim the baby’s soul.

With flat and by-the-numbers direction from John R. Leonetti and a completely unimaginative script by Gary Dauberman, this film can only be seen as the transparent attempt for quick cash that it is. There is literally nothing we haven’t seen before here and that would be fine if Leonetti directed these horror tropes with even the slightest bit of passion or energy. It barely follows a cohesive story as it runs through every cliché it can in it’s 99 minutes. We get flashing lights, dolls changing position, thrown out objects returning to their owners…without much concern either…and demonic creatures glimpsed in the shadows. We also get the stereotypical character who knows all about the occult and just happens to run a book shop down the block. Conveniently there to befriend and then help the embattled couple, since the stereotypical holy man only gets bitch-slapped by the evil force. This flick rips off practically every demonic evil and haunting movie that’s come before it and does so brazenly…it actually takes balls to blatantly rip-off the climax of one of the greatest horror movies ever made and not even have the respect to pay homage or give it a nod. At least James Wan freshened up the familiar material. They don’t even try here and that is the most insulting thing of all about this flick, the incredibly lazy, lack of effort to even remotely create something actually of merit. Did the director even show up on set? The wooden performances by it’s leads…and it almost takes an effort to get a boring performance out of Alfre Woodward…and the totally bland camera set-ups, makes me question if Leonetti was home watching The View and counting his money on his couch while one of his production assistants hit the “on” button on the camera. There is just no heart or effort in this film at all.

Annabelle is a completely obvious…and sadly successful…prequel/spin-off that doesn’t even have the cleverness to at least be cohesive with the film it is a prequel to. In The Conjuring it’s stated that there actually is no real Annabelle, it was a name the demon made up in the guise of a child spirit, yet, here we have a character named Annabelle whose death with the doll gives it it’s name. Did Dauberman even watch Wan’s flick? This is not only a complete waste of time but, a sad example of how little the studio beancounters care about the fans of a hit film. I can undertand wanting to keep the momentum going till Wan gets around to an actual sequel but, at least try to give the audience something worth their hard-earned cash…at least TRY! Not the worst movie I’ve seen but, lazy to the point of insulting.

-MonsterZero NJ

1 and 1/2 dolls!

annabelle rating