Malignant Reviews Are Here, Check Out What Critics Have To Say About The James Wan Horror Movie

Annabelle Wallis in Malignant

James Wan is certainly having a busy year. He’s currently deep into filming his Aquaman sequel and his original horror film Malignant releases today, just in time for spooky season. Wan directed the movie, which features Annabelle Wallis as Madison, who is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities. Malignant also features George Young, Jake Abel, Maddie Hasson, and Michole Briana White, with a screenplay by Akela Cooper.

Based on the early reactions on social media, it certainly seems that Wan hit it out of the park with Malignant. The horror flick is now available in theaters and on HBO Max (but only for a month), and critics have started releasing their reviews. Let’s check them out, shall we?

We’ll start with the CinemaBlend side, like usual. Our very own Eric Eisenberg really enjoyed Malignant, rating it 4 out of 5 stars. He thought it was “bonkers and brilliant,” giving a shout out to James Wan for keeping the audience hooked throughout the entire run time (though Eisenberg noted that the film hits a bit of a lull in the second act, but comes right back). He also commended Annabelle Wallis’ performance as Madison, as well as Wan’s impressive cinematography that looks like a stylistic take on the Italian Giallo subgenre. Overall, Eisenberg noted:

It’s an extreme experience that only Wan could provide, and easily one of the best scary movies of 2021.

Scott Mendelson from Forbes also applauded Wallis’ performance, noting that she anchors the movie. He also commended the supporting cast and Joseph Bishara’s score. Mendelson considers Malignant the best theatrical horror flick of the entire year, noting that even if you can guess some of the plot points, you’ll still find plenty of surprises along the way. Here’s what he said:

Malignant is a spectacularly goofy and unapologetically over-the-top horror extravaganza from a guy who has the capital to get a major studio to finance a “big” original horror movie and the skill to make the most of it.

Michael Ordoña of The Los Angeles Times was pretty disappointed overall with Malignant… until the final twist, which he thought was “a doozy.” He criticized the flat dialogue, the lack of any character development, and the fact that there’s no logic to the characters’ actions. While he thought the gore was plenty gruesome, he argued that it still isn’t a scary movie. But Ordoña really enjoyed the film’s big reveal at the end, which led him to say:

Many of the bells and whistles around it are predictable, and it takes a long time to get to it, but once it emerges, the movie becomes a lot more fun.

While Jude Dry from IndieWire did enjoy the “ghoulish” reveal towards the end of the film and the stomach-churning gore, she was still disappointed. Dry wished that Malignant would have chosen a clear spin on the horror formula instead of sitting uncomfortably between a slasher, ghost story, and possession flick. She also didn’t appreciate that the horror thriller used adoption as a plot point in very poor taste, and wished that the movie would have leaned into more of the ridiculousness than the drama. Dry noted:

If Wan has franchise plans for Malignant (and let’s face it, even if he doesn’t, Warner Bros. does), he would be well served to play up the insanity in the dialogue and character development to match the action. After all, it’s in his blood.

Frank Scheck from The Hollywood Reporter thought the horror movie was just plain laughable. While he thought some of the set pieces and CGI were striking, he criticized everything from the lack of coherence in the narrative, the paper-thin characterizations, and the acting. He said:

The film might have been outrageously bizarre fun if it displayed any humor or ironic self-consciousness, but everything is played so straight that viewers will find themselves laughing not with the film but at it.

Well, those reviews were pretty mixed. You can see the film for yourself now and form your own opinion, as Malignant is now available in theaters and on HBO Max.

Check out everything else coming to HBO Max this year from Warner Bros. (the studio bringing us Malignant) with our release guide.

Sydney Skubic