I swear, for the life of me I cannot seem to spell this word correctly. Malivolent? Malevolent? Mailevolevent? I don’t care. Florence Pugh stars in supernatural-slasher horror Malignant, a film sandwiched between her stellar performances in The King and Midsommar. This film is an immature but well-intentioned film that loses so much steam by the final act that I have literally seen this movie three times but cannot remember how it ends.
The film is reminiscent of James Wan, in that it sets up a group of characters who face a set of true, human pains. In this case, it’s things like the loss of a mother, abuse, and enablement. Angela, played by Pugh, is the quiet, angsty protagonist of this film, burdened with the gift of being able to see the dead. She doesn’t know that this gift is real, but just chalks it up to a mental disease that her mother and grandmother succumbed to. It’s bleak, and sets up a dramatic irony in a way that’s deeper than Wan’s efforts. The set up as well is a unique twist, wherein the characters run around pretending to be ghost hunters.
The team, made up of Angela, Jackson, the older brother and two random other people, encounter an old British lady. She’s steadfast and doesn’t let the older brother, the antagonist, manipulate and exploit her grief. The group is forced to do actual work, and in the second act are harassed by a series of real- or not?- apparitions. It is scary, but it’s mostly just jump scares and people walking slowly down halls while the music carries the drama. Then, the group is kidnapped, people’s mouths are sewn shut, tongues are pulled and I lose interest.
If you’re wondering why it took me three fucking attempts, here’s what happened.
Last week, I hit play on Malivilent, only for it to start playing with about 20 minutes left before the climax. Confused, I rewinded the film and started over, suddenly remembering that yes, I had seen much of this already. Determined to give it an honest effort, I kept watching… only to lose interest. As I wrote this review, again, I attempted to finish the film, this time by starting at the halfway mark… and then losing interest again. I know I said in my last review that I don’t cheat, but I was lying. I’m publishing this review without having finished Malevolent. Hey! Where did the red squiggly line go?
The only saving grace to this film is that the soundtrack is actually pretty good. It’s a little repetitive, but it’s good.
Edit: Before publishing, I tried for a fourth time. Pugh survives, the movie is dumb. The trick is to watch the last 20 minutes at 1.25x speed while blasted drunk.
You can stream Malevolevodingdong on Netflix.