Linda Cook review: James Wan’s ‘Malignant’ is a bonkers horror masterpiece

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“Malignant” is so freaky it’s almost a throwback to horror movies of the past.

Yes, I’m talking about decades-old movies like”Re-Animator” and “Basket Case” – the kind of horror offerings that shock and become cult films almost overnight. It’s the kind of movie which, once upon a time, drew audiences to drive-ins and midnight shows.

“Saw” guru James Wan – one of my favorite directors – wrote and helmed this film that’s difficult to review, because it wouldn’t be fair to give away the double-whammy of a twist toward the end. Maybe it’s even a triple-whammy. I’ll let you decide.

The central character is Madison (Annabelle Wallis, “Tag,”) a woman married to an angry and sometimes violent man. After a ghastly episode at the hands of her husband, Madison finds herself alone.

Her sister (Maddie Hasson, “We Summon the Darkness”) tries to support Madison when her sibling wakes screaming from her visions, a la “The Eyes of Laura Mars.” Madison sees realistic, grisly slayings. No one believes her, not even the detectives who are on the trail of a killer.

I love the way the characters relate to each other, and the way they react to certain discoveries. It’s deliciously unnerving.

It simply isn’t fair to tell you much more than this. It’s better that you go in to this film knowing as little as possible.

What I can tell you is Wan uses special lenses, effects and unsettling angles to amplify the weirdness of his out-there tale. This is masterful film making, with fine direction and cinematography that will wow even the most seasoned horror aficionado.

It’s an utterly bonkers story that will likely make you want to watch again to find the clues at the beginning.

Wan has created a campy, cult-y horror masterpiece.

4 stars

Rated: R for foul language, gore and violence.

Running time: 111 minutes.

At Cinemark, Davenport; Palms 10, Muscatine; Blue Grass Drive-in; and streaming on HBO Max.

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