After declaring that he left terror behind to do other things, James Wan took a break between blockbusters to get back to his roots. ‘Maligno’ is a psychological horror story inspired by giallo, Brian De Palma’s film and Cronenberg’s new meat cinema, but which actually hides other intentions in a delusional ending that casts doubt on the purpose of the whole experiment.
The result has more to do with ‘Silence from Evil’ (Dead Silence, 2005) than it does with ‘The Warren File’, which is another hodgepodge of everything he loves, only if it’s an exhibition of delectable horrors in Maximum style, here only its the best version seen on occasion, and it shows a writer who has crossed the blockbuster chasm without actually appearing to be himself again.
Granted, there are many elements drawn from the world of Dario Argento but above all it focuses on late films like ‘Phenomena’ (1985), and other giallo bosses appear related to his most gruesome scenes, but the central part, the murders, is too routine. , not sensual at all, and executed in CGI blood, without ceremony, without imagination.
Honoring the late giallo
But it soon becomes clear that not everything is a tribute to Italian terror, and we see Wan rescuing De Palma’s ideas from ‘In the name of Cain’ (1992), and, George A. Romero. The protagonist’s odyssey, with an assassin in black who only he sees, might even be reminiscent of ‘Diabolical Lectures’ (1989).
But the rain of references and déjà vu can’t make up for some of the flaws in the script and even in the staging, with the inelegant use of the camera in hand, isn’t very typical of the author and it shows a certain laziness that extends into a video. The texture is slightly camouflaged by the comfortable dark and bluish lighting which doesn’t prevent the whole from being even too harsh at times. Perhaps the most striking is when he presents a promising scene, when he starts to build the atmosphere, it seems the footage is lost.
It presents an extraordinary setting, a space for fear like a foggy subway or a majestic abandoned hospital and when it looks like it’s about to present the terror part, it finally passes through it, as if the montage was in a rush and wanting to reach the next scene. . Additionally, the song features a shrill, over-the-top electronic soundtrack that rarely seeks to unsettle, and the madness comes with repeated performances of sample tracks from ‘Where is my mind?’ which cowers off the topic of using the Pixies song in theaters.
Self-awareness is not always an excuse
The plot and twists of ‘Maligno’ are fairly predictable, but there are some funny things in the execution. There’s a tendency for repetition (that digital emulsion, the entire VHS collection with birthdays and confessions) but the final reveal is an interesting example of the use of special effects, leading to a hilarious ending in its crazy trash can, so much fun inside. a shameless recreation of the logic of direct-to-video ’90s terror, with a z-series texture that ends up touching some unintentional humor at times.
The climax is a gore debauchery that gets better the more dizzy he gets. However, more was expected of James Wan when in the midst of the “series B” boom he stepped out for “series A” action and indicated that he really wanted to film something closer to his new blockbuster, which includes the film’s signature 360º action scenes. another, as if he wanted to mix so much to hide that he really wanted to make another DC comic, but with more violence, one that ended up looking like ‘Faust’ (2000) from Fantastic Factory.
‘Maligno’ is James Wan’s disappointing return to terror, bloodier than usual but aimless, who commits the same sin as ‘Aquaman’, trying to be an omelet of too many things, which most of us love, but the mix is crude, shrill, and sometimes boring. However, you have to marvel at the level of madness it reaches, despite the fact that it’s all pretty much seen and told without the muscles of an old terror master, which at least this time, entertains the more insane it shows.