James Wan Reflects on Malignant, The Freedom of Horror

To celebrate its release in 4K Ultra HD, ComingSoon spoke with Evil one director James Wan on his return to the horror genre, what inspired the impactful film and his dream horror projects.

“In the film, Madison is transfixed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens when she discovers that these daydreams are, in fact, terrifying realities,” reads the synopsis.

Tyler Treese: I love that the movie isn’t afraid to be weird and funny. From a storytelling perspective, how liberating is it to work within the horror genre where people want to buy monsters and the supernatural? There seems to be more of a built-in amount of suspension of disbelief in there.

james wan: You know, that’s a great question. I think playing in a genre that has a sandbox, so to speak, that lets people know what they’re getting into already helps a lot. And it does, it frees me up to then invent a strange and interesting world for people to inhabit this space. That’s part of my love for the sci-fi horror genre: you can make up a really out of character story and people are more willing to accept it, you know? That’s a big part of why I love making these movies.

This is your first horror movie since the success of Aquaman. What were the biggest lessons you learned from the blockbusters you worked on, that you were able to apply to Malignant?

I always say that I learn from every film I make, regardless of the genre they are in. And I just apply everything that I’ve learned over my years of making movies and doing television and just telling stories in general. So I don’t have a specific thing that I would say I learned, particularly from the bigger movies I did, maybe the obvious thing is that I learned about how to use certain toys and tools. If you want. Having played with bigger crews meant that when making any of my movies, I pretty much know what I have at my disposal in terms of my bag of cinematic tricks.

I read that you and your wife Ingrid were inspired by the urban legend of Edward Mordrake. You clearly have a keen eye for horror and stories, so what really stood out about the myth that inspired this?

Well, funnily enough, when Ingrid brought me the idea of ​​an evil twin concept, I was like, “Oh, you know, that’s cool,” but then I feel like we’ve… the evil twin concept is almost kind of a cliche and more used as a joke than anything else these days but the more we talk about it and the more we develop the concept of like an evil twin that isn’t really out there but still lives inside of you you were what made it really exciting. And then, of course, we do more research and then we find the story of this particular urban myth, or urban legend. And she told me how weird this idea can be, and that’s part of the fun for me. I like weird and weird things, and I do that in all my movies. No matter what genre I make them in, that may explain why I’m more drawn to the world of Aquaman, just because it allows me to create more weird and wonderful characters and creatures, right? And it’s really no different for horror too. If my villain is a traditional monster or my villain is a human monster. It’s just part of a package of what I love about horror movies or movies in general.

Ray Chase is great as the voice of Gabriel and is such an accomplished voice actor in games and anime. So how did you find him and how did working with him come about?

We just auditioned. I heard a lot of voices and at one point we thought about doing a stunt casting. Choosing someone who’s pretty well known or famous, if you will, to play the voice of Gabriel, but then I thought maybe that could take away from this character, you know? At one point, I fantasized about Michael Keaton doing the voice of Gabriel, which could have been very interesting, but at the end of the day, I decided not to go with someone recognizable. So in that way, I feel like you’re going to be more drawn to what this character is, the plight of him, and you’re not trying to be like, “Oh my gosh, that’s such and such a famous actor, playing the voice. “

Have you ever looked at horror anime as an influence?

You know, it’s fun. I grew up with, obviously, with cartoons, animations. I didn’t necessarily grow up with horror anime. So I wouldn’t say that was necessarily my biggest influence. Obviously, as I’ve pointed out in many of my interviews, my biggest influence was the Italian horror movies that I grew up with, and also a sort of ’80s horror movie. So my idea was, how can I make those kinds of movies, but bring them to a sort of modern, up-to-date sensibility and do it at a high level?

Back in 2008, you put together this awesome Dead Space trailer. Is space horror something you’d like to explore more of in the future?

Do. I feel like that’s probably the kind of horror subgenre I’d love to play in. The two that I would probably love to play for myself personally, if I were ever to direct them, would be space horror and the zombie genre as well. I want to make my own version of what I think a zombie movie could be. The perfect thing would be to mix those two together, space horror, space zombies. We’ll see if we ever get to something like that.

The male lead here, George Young, is so good at his detective role. He is also of Chinese Malaysian descent. Can you talk just getting it for such an action-packed role?

Yes, I mean the good thing about Evil one is that I could choose who I wanted. I’m not beholden to the need to necessarily hire specific people to try to make the budget work or to try to get financing and all that. So he allowed me to choose the people I most wanted to work with, and George was one of those people. And obviously also Annabel Wallace, who I’ve worked with before and who I really love, is great. And it was fun to try and discover new people, and the opportunity to work with a fellow Malaysian or one of Chinese Malay descent was very exciting for me, because I always try to dig deeper into my roots. I mean, ever since my first film, working with Ken Leung, I always try to find places to include Asian actors in my work, since I’m Asian, and I always try to keep that. open door for my people, so to speak.

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