'Malignant': 9 Things to Know Before You Watch

Before you watch this waking nightmare in theaters this weekend, here are the 9 things you need to know about "Malignant."

Jesse Conner

By Jesse Conner

Malignant: 9 Things to Know

© Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

Warner Bros. releases their latest horror film this weekend, and it's being described as anything but predictable. "Malignant" follows a young woman Madison who in some strange way is being mentally transported to the scene of a murder just as it occurs. When she was young, she had an imaginary friend named Gabriel, but it appears that he's actually decided to hang around even after her childhood. The question now is, what should she do? And what can she do? To help you watch along and solve the mystery, here are 9 things to know before you watch "Malignant" this weekend in theaters and on HBO Max.

  • 1James Wan Is the Director
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    "The Conjuring" director James Wan not only directed this film, but helped come up with the story as well, and co-produces. The last film Wan directed that found critical and box office success was the DCEU's "Aquaman." Wan is also set the direct the sequel "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom." But he wanted to get in a smaller, more personal project before taking on the goliath, which led him to helm this film. In an interview with IGN, Wan stated, “I wanted to make a movie in between those two giant films, just something smaller, more intimate...and really harken back to the style of filmmaking or the kind of films that excited me when I was when much younger..."

  • 2Annabelle Wallis Is Our Lead
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    You might recognize lead actress Annabelle Wallis from her role as Mia Form in "Annabelle." She also had a prominent role in the 2017 film "The Mummy" alongside Tom Cruise. Wallis brings a powerful presence to this one, with her various looks of devastation and fear, all the while never blinking for a second. Her extreme facial expressions will be enough to make you panic. She proved to audiences she can handle the horror genre after her performance in "Annabelle." And she's great as the petrified heroine here.

  • 3Harsh Visions Will Become Brutal Realities
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    Without giving too much away, we've seen that Wallis' character Madison is somehow seeing visions of random people just before they're murdered. These insane hallucinations aren't hallucinations at all. In fact, they're moments existing in real time before a person's demise. How and why is she the one seeing the unfortunate events take place? Those are the movie's essential mysteries.

  • 4This Isn't a Jump Scare Film
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    Contrary to what you might be thinking, James Wan has decided to take a different direction with this film. James tells IGN, "Part of the reason, too, why I wanted to make Malignant was that I want people to know that this is not a jump scare film. And I worked very hard to make a movie that doesn't really have my traditional jump scares because it's not that kind of a movie.” There's part of us that craves some of Wan's signature jump scares. But we're excited to see what kind of new and inventive way of storytelling Wan employs in this one.

  • 5The Special Effects Are Intense
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    The first thing that stood out to us after seeing the previews was the special effects. There's a beautiful mix of abstract visuals reminiscent of the Conjuring franchise paired with 360-degree camera angles and accelerated montages similar to what we've seen in the Saw films. So essentially, it's the best of both horrific worlds. With CGI and special effects like this, you're pretty much guaranteed to have a nightmare or two after watching.

  • 6This Is an Entirely Original Story
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    Wan brings us a completely original film this time that's unrelated to any of his other horror classics. A fun fact you might not have noticed about Wan is that he mostly has only ever directed the first film in his franchises, and on occasion its sequel. He's produced all of the films from the Saw, Conjuring, and Insidious universes. But he's only directed one or two films from each franchise. Wan explains to IGN, “There's a reason why I don't make three movies in the same series. It'd be lucky to get me to make a sequel. And then after that, I just get bored. I want to do something different.”

  • 7Not Just a Horror Flick
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    With the new approach, Wan has opened this film up to multiple genres. When discussing the film with IGN, Wan says, "It's horror, but it's also a traditional thriller. It's psychological, it's serial killer, but it's also potentially a monster movie.” There's a character we've heard about named Gabriel, which could explain how this could be a monster movie. There's the frantic look on Madison's face throughout the entirety of the trailers, which could explain how this is more of a psychological thriller.

  • 8Not All Imaginary Friends Are Good Ones
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    We briefly mentioned our "imaginary friend" Gabriel. We put both "imaginary" and "friend" in quotes because he's neither of those things. From what we can tell, he's an evil spirit that has been continuously tormenting Madison for most of her life. It started when she was a little girl. We acknowledge that when growing up we sometimes make imaginary friends. But when those "friends" are still around during adulthood, then there's something else at play -- which might not be a good thing.

  • 9The Title Takes on Multiple Meanings
    Malignant: 9 Things to Know

    © Warner Bros. /Courtesy Everett Collection

    One of the things to think about is what we might already know about the title "Malignant" and what it might be referring to. The word "malignant" is defined as malevolent and it's also defined as very virulent or infectious. Wan tells IGN, "I'm a big fan of titles that have multiple meanings to it. And with Saw, we felt there's one part of that that obviously refers to the visceral aspect of a tool, but at the same time, it touched a bit on what the voyeuristic aspect of the film was as well. And so, with Malignant, I just felt like this title really encompasses the tone of the film, the subject matter, which actually has a fair bit of medical horror attached to it. So, it just felt appropriate."

Malignant Poster

Malignant

Horror / 2021 / R

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About the Author

Jesse Conner

Jesse Conner

Jesse is a writer and content manager for Noovie. When he's not working, he's on the beach playing volleyball.

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