Elijah is an Amazon best-selling author, blogger, previous columnist for an award-winning blog, past creative editor, socialite and traveler
Malignant (2021) Movie Poster
Okay, so let me be blatantly honest; when the movie started, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. The hospital scene opened with chaos, but left so much room to wonder what was going on. There was a bloody mess and I assumed, since it was in a mental hospital, that it was a deranged patient who was on a serial-killer rampage. Then, when they hauled off the culprit, it is revealed that it is a child.. or sort of.
My mind then went to thinking, "okay, maybe this child is like a murderous psychopath, or since it's James Wan and he's known for his paranormal movies (Conjuring, etc.) maybe the child is possessed ?"
That was a pretty safe assumption, but then, when there is a glimpse of the horribly monstrous looking face I thought, "what the fuck, is this an alien movie?"
The creature, or whatever it was, looked very reminiscent of some horrible alien from other movies.
Throughout the first part of the movie I had no idea what was happening. Was it paranormal? Was it a serial killer? Is this revolving around aliens? When the lights were flickering before Madison's husband was brutally murdered it made me think that it was going to be a slasher kind of movie. I soon realized that the film was, in fact, a slasher film full of demented plot twists, confusion and anxiety.
The doctor from the opening scene is brutally murdered, and Madison somehow manages to be present during the murder. She is present either in her mind, or through a vision, or some connection with the doctor or even the disturbed killer. Those were my speculations during that moment.
When another doctor from the opening scene is murdered while sleeping, it disqualified my theory that Madison was connected to the doctor. There were only two theories left: she was connected to the killer somehow, or she had some kind of psychic ability.
Another really confusing thing was why the random woman giving the tour was abducted and held hostage by the killer. There was no context as to who she was or why she was abducted.
I also thought during the scene, "where the hell is she being held hostage?"
Yet another person is killed from the opening scene, and this time, Detective Shaw arrives to the crime scene not knowing the killer is still there. There's a chase that ensues and it becomes evident that this killer, later revealed as Gabriel, has super human strength, which made me reconsider that maybe he was paranormal or demonic.
After a hypnosis therapy session I became even more confused, and unnerved, and thought, "maybe she did have a brother, an evil crazy brother, and he died and now his spirit has followed her around throughout her childhood and has now emerged again."
That was my only explanation for Madison as a child having conversations with Gabriel through play-phones, and at her birthday party. Especially with the birthday cake scene! Part of me wondered if maybe she had an evil twin who broke out of the hospital and had been stalking her and killing those who kept him locked up.
Right after this hypnosis session, the unknown woman escapes but falls through the floor and lands directly in the living room where they had the hypnosis session. I was stunned and I thought I had finally put the puzzle pieces together and made the conclusion: Madison was the killer the whole time, she was psychotic and was imagining this "Gabriel" as a way to blame him for her murderous tendencies. She had seen these visions of the murders because she herself was committing them, from a dissociative state as a way to not admit her delusional mind and crimes. BUT! Then, after being arrested, Gabriel calls while in the interrogation room, and in that moment I realized that Madison couldn't possibly be killing people if Gabriel was calling the detectives in that present moment.
Now, the rest of the film is where the answers are revealed, so scroll down to the "Plot Twist" section to find out the explanation, as well as my impression.
A breakdown of the characters:
Madison- I found to be a likable protagonist (or, antagonist???), aside from her pitiful disposition and helplessness.
Sydney- Madison's sister who is total sister goals. She does anything for her sister throughout the film, and is probably the most diligent and bold of the characters.
Detective Shaw- he's the classic good guy cop, he has faith in Madison when no one else really has faith in her. He's courageous. He's attractive... yeah that's pretty much it.
Detective Moss- She reminds me of Wanda Sykes, but an unlikable, insufferable version of her. I wanted to bitch-slap her the entire time and I was very sad that she wasn't murdered in the film (or at least severely maimed). In fact, I disliked her more than Gabriel. At least Gabriel had substance.
Winnie- honestly, I found her to be the most likable out of all of the characters. She was painfully awkward, corny, and quirky in the most humorous (and relatable) of ways. I was also glad that Ingrid Bisu finally played a character who survived in a horror movie!
Madison's Husband- Idek what his name is, he's so irrelevant and only had like five minutes of screen time anyway. He also deserved to die, in my opinion.
Serena May- Madison & Gabriel's birth mother didn't have a lot of screen time where she talked, but her character's backstory is interesting to say the least. She was impregnated through rape, and I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps she was impregnated by an evil spirit. That would be my only explanation for Gabriel's unholy looks, super-human strength, the power to control and talk through things that use electricity. Plus, Madison constantly refers to Gabriel as, "The Devil."
Gabriel- One of the most disturbing and dark horror movie antagonists I've seen. His character is complex and also shrouded in mystery. When you really think about it, we don't know a whole lot about him... or it?
I won't address the other characters because they had little impact on the film, EXCEPT for one: the African-American woman who was in the jail cell dressed like a Donna Summers impersonator. What was that about? I did not get it at all. What was the point? Malignant isn't even set in the 70's so I'm not sure what the goal was there.
The script was really solid EXCEPT for the beginning and ending. In the opening scene the dialect is pretty cheesy, as is the dialogue in the ending. Honestly, it would've been better if they talked less in the end just so I would've saved myself from cringing. Everything else was perfect!
Oh, Joseph Bishara, how we appreciate your musical contributions over the years. He's composed music for the Conjuring and Insidious films, but in Malignant I found his music to be more modern and dynamic. He seemed to put down the classic horror movie violin sounds and eerie noises and traded it in for a more bold and energetic sound. At some points, for example, right after Serena May fell through the floor boards, the loud and intense music that played into the next scene made me uncomfortable and a tad upset.
Plot Twist **Spoiler Alert***
Okay, now for the plot twist. It's revealed that Gabriel was a parasitic twin that was absorbed in the womb by Madison, and is an extreme version of a teratoma (which honestly, the teratoma thing doesn't make much sense). The concept in itself is horrifying, and realizing that Madison has been controlled the entire time is both disturbing and shocking. It freaked me out even more that Gabriel made Madison's body run and walk backwards in such a bizarre manner. I was not expecting any of that. The jail cell scene was unnecessarily bloody. I also don't understand how Gabriel seemed to control electricity and talked through electronics. There must be a supernatural element to the movie because there isn't any logical, sensible explanation to explain this.
Cast wise, I don't really have any complaints! Aside from the cheesy dialogue in the beginning scene that seemed like cheap acting, everything else was fairly good.
© 2021 Elijah DeVivo