The filmmaker draws a strange comparison between his Giallo-inspired latest film and the Disney animated film.
By Mary Beth McAndrews Published on July 24, 2021
Entering the Discourse is a three times a week column that tells us who’s saying what about new releases and upcoming projects. Today we discuss James Wan’s comments on his upcoming return to horror, malignant, and his Giallo roots.
James Wan | is the godfather of contemporary horror. Saw, which he co-directed with Leigh Whannell, was one of the earliest “torture porn” and helped shape the subgenre. The Conjuring brought new Catholic superheroes to the audience and a makeover of the exorcism film. Insidious made haunted houses creepy again. Now Wan marks his return to the genre Malignantwho appears to be Wan’s version of the Giallo films of the 1970s.
His first project after taking over the Aquaman franchise, Malignant is a return to Wan’s horror roots. In an interview with IGN, Wan explains:
“I wanted to make a film between those two huge films that was a little smaller, more intimate, and really reverted to the style of filmmaking, or the kind of films that got me excited when I was much younger, when I was a teenager and adored filmmakers like [Brian] Palm tree, [Dario] Argento and so. “
The Malignant trailer is full of images drawing on the work of Argento and other Giallo directors. Giallo is a sub-genre of horror that flourished in the 1970s. These films like Tenebrae and Bay of Blood are crime thrillers full of gruesome deaths, red lighting, leather gloves and an amateur detective who has to get to the bottom of the mystery.
Wan points directly to Argentos Opera, declaring that this film “really has shades of all those more violent and visceral thrillers of the 80s and sometimes the 70s”.
Giallo is an aesthetically impressive genre, and the use of light and space in the Malignant trailer shows James Wan’s respect for this epoch of horror history. Gabriel, the villain of the film, is shown in black, the basic outfit for every Giallo killer. Each image is bathed in red light, and the protagonist of the film embodies the ethos of the giallo main character, who is driven into violence seemingly randomly until she realizes the depth of the crimes at hand.
Wan defines the film himself: “It’s horror, but it’s also a traditional thriller. It’s psychological, it’s a serial killer, but it’s possibly also a monster movie. ”While the trailer reveals a Giallo-inspired movie, Wan also explains how that movie draws on De Palmas Dressed to kill and Raising Cain to create something “in the style of (De Palmas) egregious crime division”.
This isn’t just your typical obsession movie. This is slightly darker and sexier than his previous films, and draws a darker side to the horror story.
He also explains the plot of Malignant as a horror version of a particular Disney cartoon, as the story revolves around two sisters trying to figure out a series of murders. Specifically, he says: “There is a horror version of Frozen in that there is some of that sisterly camaraderie, but with a lot of crazy shit going on around them. ”
This then begs the question, if the sisters are like Anna and Elsa, is Gabriel like Olaf? We can only hope.
Wan has a very specific style that makes all of his worlds deeply uncomfortable. A room is a little too bright or the shadows are a little too wrong. His films aren’t just scary, they’re scary. But Wan uses a little spice in his films to really get the heart rate going: Jumpscares. While they’re often well made, they’re an integral part of his filmography, and Wan knows it. He says:
“I am very aware of the reputation I have built myself in the horror genre over the past few years. And I always try to find new ways to reinvent myself so that I don’t get stale, so to speak. And part of the reason I wanted to do ‘Malignant’ was because people wanted to know that this is not a jump scare movie. And I’ve worked really hard to make a movie that doesn’t really have my traditional jump scares because it’s not that type of movie. And I feel like I know that people are now associating me with demonic possessions and haunted houses and the like. In this sense, I knew that I wanted to play with people’s perception of myself. “
With Aquaman in the bag (and a sequel on the way), Malignant marks the next step in James Wan’s horror career. He’s no longer just an indie horror darling, he’s a filmmaker creating franchises that take on massive IPs in the comic book universe. That makes his return to horror all the cuter. Even while working in the world of superheroes, Wan wants to bring his horror stories to life.
James Wans Malignant is slated to hit theaters and HBO Max on September 10th.
Related Topics: Entering the Discourse, James Wan, Malignant
Mary Beth McAndrews likes found footage and will fight you if you say otherwise. When she’s not writing, she’s looking for Mothman with her two cats. Follow her on Twitter @mbmcandrews. (You / you)