Malignant follows Madison Mitchell (played by Annabelle Wallis), who suffers from bizarre and terrifying visions of brutal murders. In order to stop the killer and save herself, Madison must consider her own troubled past.
In the wake of Aquaman’s success and with the commitment to make an Aquaman sequel, Wan took the opportunity to insert a smaller, more personal film between his DCEU productions. As Wan explained, “I wanted to make a movie in between these two giant movies, which, just something smaller, more intimate and really reminiscent of the directing style or the kind of movies that turned me on when I was. I was much younger, when I was a teenager I idolized filmmakers like De Palma, Argento and all that. I just thought, ‘When will I get the chance to do a movie like this again? Now is the time for me to use this opportunity to make the kind of movies that I don’t really think about doing at this level anymore. ‘ And so it really came out of the desire to go back, kind of a throwback movie. And it was just a story that I talked about that really fit that desire.
At Wan’s insistence, much of Malignant is shrouded in secrecy. Even the meaning of the title is proving “difficult to discuss without revealing it,” Wan admits. “I’m a big fan of titles that have multiple meanings. And with Saw, we felt there was a part of that that obviously referred to the visceral aspect of a tool, but at the same time, it also touched on the voyeuristic aspect of the movie a little bit. And so with Malignant, I just felt like that title really encompasses the tone of the movie, the subject matter, which actually has quite a bit of medical horror attached to it. So it just seemed appropriate.
The malevolent figure that plagues Madison is Gabriel, whose trailer reveals to be a presence in her childhood and then referred to as “the devil.” The trailer reveals that Madison had a very troubled youth before joining her new adoptive family. It seems she doesn’t remember much of her dark past until official documentation and home videos resurface.
So who – or what – exactly is Gabriel? Here, too, Wan is shy about the exact nature of his film’s villain but promises that choosing this particular foe has also allowed him to shake up his own directing style and not repeat himself, a major reason he has. even wanted to make this movie. . Malignant, Wan promises, is “not a scary film” and those familiar with its filmography may mistakenly assume how the horror and stylistic elements of the film will play out.
“What I will say (about Gabriel) is that I am very aware of the reputation I have built in the horror genre over the past few years. And I’m always trying to find new ways to reinvent myself so that I don’t get stale, so to speak. Or rather, I don’t want people’s perception of me to become obsolete. I don’t want people to keep thinking, ‘Oh, James is just doing the same thing over and over again because he’s able to do it. He does it well, and that’s all he does. And I hate it. And so part of the reason I wanted to do Malignant was that I want people to know it’s not a horror movie. And I worked really hard to make a movie that doesn’t really have my traditional jumping fears because it’s not that kind of movie. And I feel like I know people now associate me with demonic possessions, haunted houses and stuff like that. And so with that in mind, I knew I wanted to play with the perception people had of me.
Wan calls Malignant a mixture of several genres. “It’s horror, but it’s also a traditional thriller. It’s psychological, it’s a serial killer, but it’s also potentially a monster movie. This brings us back to Gabriel and the question of who or what they are. “My goal was to create a villain that you’re not sure what it is. Is he a demon? Is he just a human serial killer or somebody’s imagination? Is it an imaginary friend who has come to life? It could be any of those things. And I think that’s part of the fun with the movie trying to figure out what this stuff is.
In addition to Annabelle Wallis as Madison, the film stars Maddie Hasson as her sister, Sydney. The relationship between the two is integral to the film, with Wan viewing it as “a story of brotherly inquiry.” The story is pretty much what Madison is going through now. For some reason, she has these visions of this truly gruesome and gruesome murder spree. And she doesn’t know what’s happening to her. She feels like it’s related to her and all that. And she and her sister are trying to get out of it. So they’re trying to find out what’s going on here. And I joke that it’s like the horror version of Frozen. It really is. There’s a horror version of Frozen in which there’s a little bit of that brotherly camaraderie, but with a lot of crazy shit going on around them.
While Frozen may seem like a very odd benchmark when it comes to horror, Wan’s actual influences for Malignant are more in line with Dario Argento and Brian De Palma films. Wan calls Malignant “a little bit of my homage to the Argento Opera and the Terror at the Opera, and he really has undertones of all those more violent and visceral thrillers of the 80s and sometimes the 70s”. Wan also cites the inventive aesthetic and psychological makeup of De Palma’s less famous horror films as an influence here. “I would definitely say it’s more in the vein of Raising Cain, Dressed to Kill. It is in the vein of (his) most scandalous detective story.
As the trailer for Malignant reveals a wall-melting digital deception, Wan insists he’s still embracing his passion for old-school horror cinema here: “My goal is to try to create as many (effects) as possible behind closed doors, embrace today’s modern technology and the best way to combine the two. For me, the best of both worlds is to take an old-fashioned camera and practical effects and combine them with modern approaches. And I think Malignant really falls into that camp.
While Wan has already made sequels – The Conjuring 2, Insidious: Chapter 2, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom spinning – he says he only does them when there’s a new hook to the story. that interests him or a new aspect of the characters he loves and that he believes are worth exploring. Otherwise, he doesn’t want to repeat to himself, “There’s a reason I don’t make three films in the same series. It would be lucky if I did a sequel. And then after that, I’m bored. I want to do something different. Wan then sees Malignant as an opportunity to challenge people’s expectations of what they think they know about his sensitivity to horror cinema – although he admits there is an inherent risk involved.
“How do I take (people’s assumption about his approach) and make you think you might be watching a possession, a haunted house, or a demon movie, but how do I sort that out?” And that’s what I always try to do. Whether I succeed or not, at least that’s my goal. My goal is to try to stay one step ahead of the audience, to stay one step ahead of myself if I can help them, and to try and do something different. I think Malignant is a bit outside of what people know me for, even in the horror genre. And I think it’s going to be good and bad because there will be people coming over to watch this movie, saying, “F ***, were we expecting some kind of classic fear and horror from James? Wan, and he’s not giving it to us. ‘Well, I’m kinda fed up. I don’t want to do this again. I have done this so many times already. And so I want to try something different. And I think whether or not I’m successful, at least I don’t want to repeat myself.
Malignant hits theaters September 10 in the US, UK on September 3, and Australia on September 9.