By Seth Lukas Hynes
Malignant and Halloween Kills
Rated R18+ and MA15+ (respectively)
Everyone agrees that the Christmas season starts way too early, so let’s extend Halloween into November and look at two horror films currently playing in Victorian cinemas.
Malignant is an exciting, disturbing but perplexing film by The Conjuring and Aquaman director James Wan.
Wan still shows a talent for scaring his audience, wielding shadows, ominous sound, a horrific sense of powerlessness and even some clever misdirects to keep us in a grim state of anticipation. The plot has strong forward momentum, developing Madison’s (Annabelle Wallis) turbulent family life, the masked killer antagonist and their hidden connection, and Wallis delivers a compelling performance of repressed trauma and desperation.
However, some of the supporting characters border on camp, and the very acrobatic action scenes and macabre backstory, involving parasitic twins and electrical powers, are played mostly straight yet are undeniably silly.
As such, Malignant has dark, disturbing and effective horror coexisting awkwardly with over-the-top B-movie style.
Halloween Kills is the latest film in the Halloween franchise, and the second in David Gordon Green’s new trilogy.
The performances are solid and masked killer Michael Myers is terrifying as ever, but the direction and pacing are flat, there are too many thinly-sketched characters, and the dialogue is incredibly heavy-handed.
Malignant is an engrossing ride not for the squeamish or viewers put off by clashing tones, while Halloween Kills is a shallow, forgettable film and a severe let-down from Green’s excellent 2018 Halloween film.
– Seth Lukas Hynes