WARNING: SPOILERS TO COME
“Malignant” is, in short, a journey.
In a year filled with sequels and reboots (including “Saw: Spiral” and “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It”), “Malignant” doesn’t hold back the gore, body horror, and most importantly, the sheer ridicule of the movie’s premise. The film was directed by James Wan, the director of other popular horror films like “Saw” and “The Conjuring”.
The main character, Madison, begins the film when she is pregnant with a mean and abusive boyfriend. It doesn’t last long. They fight and her boyfriend slams her head against a wall. Madison excludes him, forcing him to sleep downstairs for the night. As he sleeps alone, a half-boogie, half-inhuman monster brutally murders her and leaves Madison an injured victim from her fourth miscarriage.
She soon becomes an unwitting spectator of the creature’s upcoming murders. Madison begins “experience a strange combination of sleep paralysis and psychic visions â, according to The Ringer, because the scientists who subjected the monster to medical experiments are mutilated. As the killer, Gabriel, becomes more daring and tries to persuade her to remember her past, those around Madison begin to uncover the horrific truth.
Madison’s foster sister finds a set of old hospital tapes that Gabriel despises so much. Then, in a twist that Rod Sering would be proud of, the sister finds out that Gabriel is a parasitic twin of the appearance of a demon strapped to the back of Madison’s head, much like Professor Quirrell and Voldemort in “Harry. Potter and the sorcerer’s stone “.
Gabriel had been largely estranged from Madison, but couldn’t be completely wiped out of his brain. At this point, the doctors have just crossed their fingers (it’s a horror movie, after all).
This plan worked until her boyfriend smashed her head, forcing Gabriel to take his mind and body back to his own. Gabriel uses Madison’s body for a massive and horrific killing spree at the climax of the film. Fortunately, Madison is able to regain control of her body and keep Gabriel at bay, for now. The ending leaves the possibility of a sequel wide open, which is to be expected given Wan’s other films and their franchises.
James Wan says the film is partly inspired by the films of Giallo, a somewhat campy genre of thriller popular in Italy in the 60s and 70s. However, this is not evident in all scenes. The film has more modern traits of the genre, like being generally colorless (besides all the gore) and having a fun cop. By the third act, however, the influence becomes apparent. Between the killer’s sleek black leather outfit, the very luscious twist, and of course the genre’s main hallmark – a woman going mad – the film goes from a pretty standard horror flick to a truly bizarre experience.
The film in general is quite refreshing considering how difficult it is to get the original intellectual properties these days. Studios prefer to pour obscene sums of money into fewer, more secure projects each year, leaving any script that isn’t a sequel, remake, or reboot for dead. Horror has a little more leeway because films of the genre tendency to do better profits, but yet, projects are regularly victims.
Now, more than ever, creating truly unique experiences like “Malignant” is necessary for the genre to continue to thrive.
Natalie Katsaros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.