This might sound like something that came out of the blue, kind of, but it’s easy to guess why Stephen King would praise a movie like Malignant, at least if you’re a big King fan and know something about everything he’s written. For those that do know, The Dark Half, one of his many novels which also became a movie starring Timothy Hutton, could be called the inspiration for a novel like Malignant. This movie is essentially a different version of King’s novel, and it’s very easy to explain. Both movies are based around individuals who were born with what appeared to be tumors when they were young, and both suffered because of it. James Wan took things a step further and turned the tumor into what was called a cancer, a growth that could speak, act, and control the host to which it was attached. This growth even had a name since it was essentially another being sharing the same brain as its sibling. But where King’s character had the tumor cut out, this growth was largely excised and then housed within the skull of the host.
Malignant wasn’t that bad of a movie, to be honest, but it definitely had more of a shock and awe feeling to it, which was likely what Wan was going for since otherwise it can be stated that he failed at making a truly masterful horror movie. But the fun part about horror movies is that sometimes it doesn’t need to be masterful to be enjoyable. King praising anything that a person does is high regard since the guy is a master of his craft and is also well-respected in pop culture as he has millions of fans. To see James Wan touch upon an idea that was already brought to light and expand on it a bit is kind of interesting since Malignant does kind of take The Dark Half’s idea, but it builds on it and takes the story down a different path, which is to be expected. Plus, there are several differences.
For one, The Dark Half dealt with a separate entity born as a part of the main character that was cut out and buried in a ceremonial manner, as the pieces of a twin that were left after the dominant twin absorbed his sibling. Malignant did almost the same thing, but the killer was still a part of the main character’s body. The Dark Half was a great book, but the movie was a bit disappointing since it didn’t really capture the same feeling that the novel did. Both stories talk of possession by a mind that seeks to overthrow the main character in some way, but Malignant is a little more personal while The Dark Half is definitely reliant on an external connection that binds the protagonist and antagonist. Trying to say which is better is a bit difficult since imagining Malignant in novel form might be a little more impressive. But when comparing the movies, Malignant definitely wins out since the effects and the story is actually quite a bit better considering that James Wan took the effort to make things look as horrifying as he could.
One criticism of Malignant though is that the reveal felt like it came a little too soon since it could have possibly come a little later into the movie and been just as effective if not more so. The dissolving scenery around the main character was interesting though as it displayed the connection between the main character and the killer, and it was done in a manner that might have made people think that the movie was completely supernatural. Obviously, there was a supernatural element since the ‘cancer’, as it was called, managed to survive and control the host after it was revived due to a sharp blow to the back of the host’s head, which jarred it back into action. But the biological aspect of it was there as well since a lot of storytellers love to touch upon the power of the mind and what it can make the body do considering the killer would twist the host’s body in a way that made her body behave in a way that isn’t normal.
Whether it was because of the similarity to The Dark Half or the idea that this was just a great story, any praise at all from someone like Stephen King is bound to be noticed and definitely taken as a sign that the person being congratulated did something right. James Wan is already a noted personality in show business to be sure, but this kind of praise from another individual that’s been in the business of scaring people for so long is still something to be proud of all the same. After all, impressing someone who scares people for a living isn’t a small feat.