Malignant Review

Posted: May 28, 2014 in Horror, Reviews, Thriller
Tags: , , , , , ,

MALIGNANTEXCPOSTERRELFEATWhy, Brad Dourif, why? You are one of the most original, idiosyncratic, and talented character actors of the last 40 years. Your credits extend from the unforgettable portrayal of Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for which you received an Academy Award nomination to your Emmy nominated turn as Doc Cochran in Deadwood. You’re been the voice of pure evil for decades as the serial killer kid’s toy in the Chucky movies.

That’s a lot of good will to flush down the drain, but your latest movie is almost a big enough toilet to dispose of such a sterling reputation. Why would you do it? If it’s money, next time start a campaign on Hatchfund with a goal of raising enough to cover your bills until a decent role comes along.

Malignant, starring – you guessed it – Brad Dourif, is a bad movie. It is not merely straight-to-DVD bad. It is actually straight-to-Hell bad.

The premise is that a hopeless drunk is picked out as the subject of an experiment to cure addiction. A device is surgically implanted against his will that allows another to control him when he blacks out. Get drunk, pass out, wake up to discover that you killed someone. It’s aversion therapy designed by Charles Manson and implemented by Josef Mengele.

When the story begins to play out, one hopes that it will be a clever, tech-heavy take on Stephen King’s terrific short story, “Quitter’s Inc.,” which was later filmed as part of the horror anthology flick Cat’s Eye. No such luck. Director/writer Brian Avenet-Bradley delivers a thoughtless, charmless feature that does not even have the grace to be entertainingly awful, but instead settles for just plain awful.

Dourif is the demented scientist behind it all. Gary Cairns is the unconvincing alcoholic who develops, nurtures, shields and sustains his habit after his wife dies. And we’re all ready to concede that if you are as big a loser as the one Cairns plays, and you have a spouse as attractive as Sienna Farall up and die on you, life will lose much, if not all, of its luster.

Unfortunately, the viewer would need to be as drunk as Cairns is for much of the film to miss the incongruity, implausibility, and inconsistency of the entire effort. A plan as elaborate as the one we are asked to believe would require an X-File-esque government conspiracy, but we get a couple of guys working out of their garages, one of whom is Dourif. Maybe. The character allegedly being played by Dourif is seen from behind or in blurred focus or with a mask at least half the time he’s on screen. Then again, when we do see Dourif, his face looks like it’s been pumped with enough Botox for him to be a Real Housewife.

That is only one of a number of distractions.  The “alcohol” that Cairns guzzles throughout is some muddy brown mix that doesn’t resemble anything other than a bourbon and swamp water cocktail poured straight out of a bottle. The supporting cast looks like a collection of friends and family from someone’s cell phone plan.

Yet, there is a single redeemable feature. “I have black butterflies,” says Dourif at one point, translating a French expression for having bad thoughts. Occasionally, a black butterfly skirts across the screen, and one sees the care and craft that should have been applied throughout, but then the erratic flight path of the winged insect takes it out of sight and leaves the viewer without a reason to care what happens next.

Half a star.

  1. Mirella McCracken says:

    Pretty stingy with this one…..

    Sent from my iPad


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