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After a break from horror movies, James Wan is back with Malignant. Wan’s latest is his first horror directorial effort since 2016’s The Conjuring 2, and it’s shaping up to be a much different type of horror than the Conjuring universe. With Malignant, Wan is drawing on giallo movies and leaning into the gore to tell the story of a woman haunted by visions of a killer. Below, I’ve rounded up the pertinent details you should be aware of before Malignant arrives in theaters and on HBO Max.
Malignant Release Date and Where You Can Watch It
Malignant is headed to theaters nationwide on September 10, 2021. And since it’s a Warner Bros. release, that means it’s also headed to HBO Max via their Ad-Free plan in 4K UHD, HDR10, and Dolby Vision on supported devices on the same exact day. Once it lands on HBO Max, it will be available there for exactly 31 days.
What is Malignant?
Malignant is James Wan’s first horror movie since 2016, and it’s going to be different than the horror we’ve seen from him before. “I’m very aware of the reputation that I have built for myself in the horror genre in recent years, and I’m always trying to find new ways to reinvent myself so that I don’t get stale, so to speak,” Wan said.
“Or rather, I don’t want peoples’ perception of me to get stale. I don’t want people to keep thinking, ‘Oh, James is just doing the same thing again and again because he’s able to do it. He does it well, and that’s all he does.’ …And so 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. And I feel like I know that people now associate me with demonic possessions, and haunted houses, and stuff like that. And so with that in mind, I knew I wanted to play with peoples’ perception of me.”
Wan also said he drew on giallo films and the work of Brian De Palma, calling Malignant “a little bit of my homage to Argento’s Opera and Terror at the Opera, and it really has shades of all those ’80s and sometimes ’70s of more violent and visceral thrillers…I would definitely say it’s more in the vein of Raising Cain, Dressed to Kill…It’s in the vein of [De Palma’s] most outrageous whodunit vision.”
In Malignant, “Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.” There’s obviously more going on here than that brief sentence, but Wan and company are playing things close to the vest. But when it comes to the film’s mysterious killer, Wan says:
“My goal was to create a villain that you’re not quite sure what it is. Is he a demon? Is he just a human serial killer or someone’s figment of someone’s imagination? Is he an imaginary friend that has come to life? It could be any of those things. And I think that’s part of the fun with the film is trying to work out what the hell this thing is.”
Malignant Director, Crew, and More
James Wan is the Malignant director. The script is from Akela Cooper, who wrote the upcoming The Nun 2. Malignant is based on a story by Wan, Ingrid Bisu, and Cooper. Wan produces the film with Michael Clear, and Eric McLeod, Judson Scott, Ingrid Bisu, Peter Luo, Cheng Yang, Mandy Yu, and Lei Han serve as executive producers. Malignant also reunites Wan with some previous collaborators, including director of photography Don Burgess and editor Kirk Morri (Aquaman, The Conjuring 2), production designer Desma Murphy (Aquaman, Furious 7), and costume designer Lisa Norcia (Insidious: The Last Key). The music is by Joseph Bishara, who has composed the score for all the movies in The Conjuring Universe.
The Malignant cast includes Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle), Maddie Hasson (Mr. Mercedes), George Young (Containment), Michole Briana White (Dead to Me), Jacqueline McKenzie (Reckoning), Jake Abel (Supernatural), and Ingrid Bisu (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It).
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