Stroke of genius or total swindle? A little concealed and ill-conceived, the latest film by the master of horror, James Wan, left us with mixed feelings.
Since its secret release last week, MALIGNANT brings with it a wave of perplexity. Indeed, the film of James wan, creator of cult franchises Saw, Conjuring and Insidious, turns out to be both booed and appreciated. However, God knows that the story of this young woman, able to view the crimes of a serial killer in real time, seemed promising! After risking the blockbuster with Fast & Furious 7 and Aquaman, James wan would he be out of breath? Or would his attempt at parody horror just be frowned upon? Difficult to decide …
A tired James Wan?
Let it be said, with MALIGNANT, James wan does not revolutionize the soup. Once again, the director skims his favorite clichés. The big house a priori haunted, a fairly battered family unit and countless camera movements. Everywhere, all the time. To make you nauseous, to get lost in the scenery. Where in Conjuring Where Insidious, James wan had developed a certain capacity to offer a lot with little effect, here the director gets lost in a profusion of resources. Also, in the use of digital. Rarely has a film signed by the master threw up so many CGI on the screen. Even if it means becoming ridiculous.
Especially since this hour fifty sometimes seems like an eternity, as the scenario gets lost in tunnels of complex explanations. So come to think of it, the resolution is not that surprising, given the cluttered tracks. Moreover, if we usually appreciate the director’s penchant for pop-culture and its references, in MALIGNANT, nods to Blood sisters of DePalma are almost parody and the chosen soundtrack flirts quite a bit with bad taste. The acting sounds, too, to absent subscribers and the dialogues have nothing to envy to the most intense episodes of More beautiful life. James wan does he therefore have nothing more to offer in the domain of fear? Did he give birth to his first nanar? Good question.
Or a genius of self-parody?
After the immense commercial success of the saga CONJURING and its derivatives, James wan was able to get more or less carte blanche from Warner to make this film written by Akela Cooper and JT Petty, based on an idea from the actress Ingrid Bișu – Winnie on screen. The director has repeatedly expressed himself on the personal dimension he allocates to the project. And in fact, MALIGNANT turns out viscerally imbued with his paw. Too imbued with his paw. Sequence shot, jumpascares on a ternary rhythm, dated scriptwriting reversals… All the sliders are pushed to full power. To the point that one might wonder if this process is not conscious, in an autoparodic will.
During the strange titled show MALIGNANT, the proud joker seems, in fact, to laugh knowingly in our face and beard. Because everything in the film inspires this parody. From the duo of investigators, which is reminiscent of the one formed by Danny pino and Tracie thoms in Cold case – until the development of the scenario, similar to a Saw completely freewheeling. Some camera angles also tease us, like this debulled shot above the chilling haunted mansion – too much as fuck. It’s hard to imagine that a brain capable of conceiving a horror film as skilful asInsidious can produce such grotesque images without ulterior motive.
Also, some scenes do turn out to be funny, like when our boogeyman attacks his colleagues in police custody, straight out of the worst clichés of the genre. If this is not a voluntary intention to make people laugh … In this case, the skull James wan must have hit a wall violently. And this, on several occasions. Therefore, we cast a doubt. Especially since in terms of pure terror, MALIGNANT has no shortage of good staging ideas. Particularly in this use of camera movements, which do indeed lose us in the background. But on purpose. James wan nor has he lost his talent for subjective plans, which lock us in a real feeling of unease. Then, MALIGNANT, purulent nanar or unacknowledged parody? The question remains open. Until posterity.
• Original title : Malignant
• Production : James wan
• Scenario: Akela Cooper, Ingrid Bisu
• Main actors : Ashleigh Cummings, Emma Booth, Stephen Curry
• Release date : September 1, 2021
• Duration : 1h51min