James Wan’s New Horror Movie Malignant Gets R-Rating. Here’s Why


“Oh yes. There will be blood.”

James Wan on the set of Aquaman

Refreshingly, we don’t know much about the upcoming horror film Malignant. But what we do know excites me. We know it’s a return to the genre from James Wan, who gave us the excellent SawInsidious, and The Conjuring franchises. We know it’s based on an original screenplay and idea, after Wan’s time helming franchise titles like Furious 7 and Aquaman. We know it’s coming to theaters and HBO Max some time this year. And now, via SlashFilm, we know that it will be, gloriously, rated R, Wan’s first R-rated picture since 2016’s The Conjuring 2.

The official MPAA reasoning for this R rating? “Strong horror violence, gruesome images, and for language.” And in lieu of any plot details, stills, trailers, or even an official 2021 release date, just hearing that Wan has produced an original R-rated film with “strong horror violence” and “gruesome images” has me absolutely stoked. Don’t get me wrong; I love what Wan can do with the PG-13 horror form in Insidious, and I love what he can do with more atmospheric, dread-based scares like those seen in The Conjuring. Heck, even his original R-rated Saw isn’t nearly as bloody as our pop culture group memory recasts it, playing much more restrained and contained even in comparison to the other films in its franchise.

But the idea of this master of genre, who for so long has shown us what he can do visually without ultraviolence, giving in and letting that bloody freak flag fly is tantalizing. And while we don’t have much else to speculate on — is that knife in the film’s logo evident it’ll be a slasher? a giallo? another haunted movie about a ghost knife? — this somehow makes me all the more excited.

james-wan-aquaman
Image via Warner Bros.

Malignant‘s cast includes Annabelle Wallis (the Annabelle subset of the Conjuring-verse), Jake Abel (The Lovely Bones), George Young (Containment), Maddie Hasson (We Summon the Darkness), Michole Briana White (Songbird), Jacqueline McKenzie (Deep Blue Sea), and Mckenna Grace (Annabelle Comes Home). It’s written by Akela Cooper (Hell Fest) from an original idea by Cooper, Wan, and Ingrid Bisu (The Nun).

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