James Wan Discusses The Inspiration Behind ‘Malignant’

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Movie director James Wan took a break from fast cars and superheroes to return to his horror film roots with ‘Malignant,’ which hit theaters in early September 2021, debuting in third place at the box office on its opening weekend.

The story follows Annabelle Wallis as Madison “Maddie” Lake-Mitchell, “a woman who begins to have visions of people being murdered, only to realize the events are happening in real life.”


Wan recently sat down with Collider to discuss the movie and the inspiration behind it.

“The inception of it was, Ingrid Bisu, my wife, came to me with this really crazy sort of a medical condition, right? This anomaly. I remember just going through it, she did a lot of medical research on it, and I was really taken by it; I was really fascinated by it,” he explained. “And from that, I looked at what, naturally as my horror movie mind, what I immediately was attracted to the possibility of a story or a film that could be pulled from this particular affliction. It just started from there.”

Wan said, “We went through different ideas and what kind of story it could become, and what kind of movie it could become. Then at some point it just started becoming more real. It became a full-blown story, and then at that moment, I had to decide what kind of movie I wanted to make it. It just felt like… I’ve had the aspiration to go back to the early kind of films that I started my career with – like Saw, Dead Silence, Death Sentence days – where I was allowed to make these films that were a lot more gritty and more visceral, and I just felt naturally this particular concept and story really lend itself to that. And we went along with it.”

“In terms of editing, the trickiest part was we shot a lot of stuff that was written in there, but in editing you start to question yourself, like, ‘Am I giving too much of the concept away? Am I kind of laying the breadcrumbs a bit too thick here that would destroy the reveal at the end, if you will?’ And so it was a fine line and, and the editing process was all done during the pandemic,” he continued. “We had to do it remotely. It was really difficult, but then we got into the groove of things. But ultimately it allowed me some distance away from the film and then to come back into and look at it and then reassess the film and kind of tweak some things.”


The movie also stars Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, Jacqueline McKenzie, and Marina Mazepa. Besides directing, Wan also serves as co-writer and co-producer for ‘Malignant.’

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