• Rose East

Malignant (2021)

Updated: Jan 19

Let me start by saying this movie is one of more questions than answers. I laughed more than I cowered and I screamed at the TV more than once because it just didn’t make fucking sense. From the choppy story telling to the cheesy sisterly loving ending without closure over what the hell is going to happen to the main character now that most of Seattle PD and a ton of arrestees are slain and she’s responsible because the killer literally resides in a mental prison inside her head.

I’ll skip the run through on this one and just jump straight into my opinions on this horror movie. Directed by James Wan this movie had a ton of great camera work, from wide shots to bird's eye views to panning of the scene that left chills down your back. The movie began with promise, scary, mysterious and downright gruesome in the killing of the husband. That very quickly developed into what came across as James Wan making fun of his earlier works Lights Out, Saw, and the Conjuring all smashed into one spoof. With an 80’s horror movie vibe from the start the stylistic choices like music and costumes make it even less serious.

It’s obvious from pretty early on that Gabriel is related to Madison in some way so the big backstory reveals fall short of the mark. What is shocking however is how much Gabriel is shown in his trench coat, gloves, and with his trophy turned sword golden weapon. Also shocking, how much we hear from Gabriel in a very stereotypical scary villain voice through speakers. All of this combined made Gabriel more funny than scary. I kept thinking of the word ‘silly’ when I saw Gabriel. How he walked: silly, him crafting his weapon: silly, him climbing up the wall to threaten his abducted mother in Madison’s attic: silly. My initial fear of Gabriel had dissolved by the midway point of the movie and instead I found myself cracking jokes about the CGId fight scenes and his atrocious lines delivered in his wannabe sinister voice.

It’s implied throughout the back half of the movie that he is some incarnation of the Devil and that Madison has been fighting his devilish intentions her whole life. We find out Madison, played by Annabelle Wallis, is actually Emily the host to the teratoma that is Gabriel. In order to save Emily’s life at Simion Hospital it was decided that they would only remove what they could and then shove the rest into Emily’s head. To that I say what in the actual fuck. Towards the end after this climactic discovery Gabriel busts out the back of Madison/Emily’s head in a jail cell after Madison/Emily is roughed up by 1970’s/1980’s looking convicts. This scene is more hilarious than frightening as backwards Madison/Emily/Gabriel kill everyone (in rather gruesome fashion) and proceed to steal back the trench coat, gloves, and weapon from the evidence lockup.

This leads into a CGI fight between Seattle PD and backwards Madison/Emily/Gabriel where ultimately this creature has the body of a woman who was recently pregnant and doesn’t seem to have been into fitness but is able to climb walls, fight like Neo from the Matrix, and has the strength to mutilate bodies in fashions usually seen from vehicle accidents. After murdering almost everyone backwards Madison/Emily/Gabriel bust out of there and head to the hospital to finish off their mother who gave them to Simion Hospital at birth citing their own mother’s belief that her pregnancy resulting from rape is a “transgression against God” and that Gabriel is an “abomination” as her reasoning. One line I feel obligated to mention: “Madison’s not home” as a response from Gabriel to Madison’s sister. Following that deliciously terrible line we have the final mental battle. Madison/Emily win the day by locking Gabriel in a mental prison similar to the one he has been locking her in during his murder sprees. To that I say: why the hell is Madison/Emily still alive? We are meant to feel like this is a victory when in reality the safety of Seattle relies on Madison/Emily’s ability to stay mentally strong and keep Gabriel locked up?! Fuck that.

The cool transition scenes when Madison/Emily is locked in a mental prison and reality melts around her do not make up for the absolutely absurd plot line. Again I say, I have more questions than answers. One of the biggest questions being why does Gabriel have powers to begin with. I left watching this feeling like I had when I watched some of the later Saw movies, that the concept is there but ultimately the style choices and script make it hokey and laughable. Not a terrible watch but also not a scary movie.

Recommended score: 5/10